ABSTRACT

Problem solving was selected as the major focus of mathematics education for the 1980s (National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, 1980). This was largely a reaction to the failure of the back-to-basics movement of the 1970s. With the emphasis on rote mechanical skills during that decade, students were given little opportunity to engage in problem solving and reasoning. As a result, they performed poorly in these areas and, furthermore, did not demonstrate significant improvements in the basic skills. The decade of the 1980s was thus pronounced the era of problem solving.