A recent publication:
Anita Bright. Education for Whom? Word Problems as Carriers of Cultural Values. Taboo: The Journal of Culture and Education. (Spring 2016). pp. 6-22. Link No paywall.
observes that many textbook math word problems are from "middle or upper class perspectives". The first example word problem is:
Two art students are touring Paris. They each buy a one-day museum pass for \$14. Each student also buys a ticket to the Eiffel Tower for \$11 and a boat ticket for \$3. How much do the two students spend altogether? Explain.
From my reading of this paper, there is an implicit claim that these word problems (with middle or upper class perspectives)
have a negative impact on the learning of some less-privileged students.
Is there evidence for this claim ?
The hard evidence could be a study similar to those in the answers to a similar question about gender. There could be comparisons of student performance on different variations of the same word problem, with the same math calculations but with different characters and situations.
The soft evidence could be anectodal, perhaps something like this:
- a student is stuck on the term "one-day museum pass"
- the teacher suggests the student replace it by "movie ticket"
- the student now solves the problem
Thank you for your replies.