A Comparison of the Effectiveness between Free and Structured Play in Enhancing Studentsâ€™ Problem Solving Skills in Mathematics
Keywords:free play, structured play, Mathematics
The increasing awareness among educators around the world on the role of free play and structured play in enhancing studentsâ€™ academic performance and development of skills as well as attitudes influenced the purpose and background of this research study. This study employed a mixed method, a combination of qualitative and quantitative research to compare the effectiveness of free play and structured play in enhancing studentsâ€™ problem solving skills in Mathematics among twenty-six Grade 3 students in an international school. Three major focuses stand out in this study: teachersâ€™ perceptions towards free play and structured play, studentsâ€™ perceptions towards free play and structured play as well as a comparison of the effectiveness between free play and structured play in enhancing studentsâ€™ problem solving skills in Mathematics. Every teacher and every student has his/her own opinion towards free play and structured play. Generally, both free play and structured play approaches enhance studentsâ€™ problem solving skills in Mathematics. Nevertheless, findings indicate that students show a better progress in their problem solving skills in Mathematics, in structured play lessons compared to free play. Â Further, the findings have proven that free play and structured play complement each other in improving studentsâ€™ academic performance in Mathematics. In addition, findings also showed positive responses among the students in choosing structured play over free play for learning Mathematics. Lastly, recommendation for future research was given. Since researches on play are usually carried out with students at primary levels; thus, recommendation would be for further study to be carried out to investigate the effectiveness of play on secondary school students.
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