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Model Eliciting Activities and Reflection Tools for Problem Solving

(Summarized by: Dr. Geetanjali Soni, LITRE assessment coordinator)


Model Eliciting Activities were developed by mathematics education researchers (Lesh,
1998, 2002) to better understand and encourage problem solving. An MEA is an activity that
is thought-revealing and model-eliciting (Lesh, Hoover et. al, 2000) and have been adapted
for other areas such as engineering (Diefes-Dux et al, 2004, 2006; Hjalmarson, 2006) and
gifted education (Chamberain and Moon, 2005)

MEAs are designed to encourage students to build mathematical models in order to solve
complex problems, as well as provide a means for educators to better understand students
thinking,. MEAs are based on six specific principals (Lesh et. al 2000) and involve careful
development and field-testing. For examples of MEAs see Lesh & Yoon (2004)
The Six principles for designing MEAs are (Lesh et. al 2000):
1. Model Construction principle: problems must be designed to allow for the creation
of a model dealing with elements, relationships and operations between these
elements, patterns and rules governing these relationships etc.
2. The Reality Principle: problems must be meaningful and relevant to the students.
3. Self-assessment principle: students must be able to self-assess or measure the
usefulness of their solutions.
4. Construct documentation principle: students must be able to reveal and document
their thinking processes within their solution.
5. Construct shareability and reusability principle: solutions created by students should
be generalizable or easily adapted to other situations.

6. Effective Prototype principle: others should easily be able to interpret solutions.

Researchers have also developed a series of reflection tools that help students think about and
record specific strategies they use while problem solving and about group functioning.

Further Reading and References

Diefes-Dux H., Follman, D., Imbrie, P.K., Zawojewski, J., Capobianco, B. and Hjalmarson
M. (2004) Model Eliciting Activities: An In-class Approach to Improving Interest and
Persistence of Women in Engineering. Proceedings of the 2004 American Society for
Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition. American Society for Engineering

Lesh, R. (1998). The development of representational abilities in middle school mathematics:
The development of student's representations during model eliciting activities. In I.E. Sigel
(Ed.), Representations and student learning. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Lesh, R. (2002). Research design in mathematics education: Focusing on design experiments.
In L. English (Ed.), International handbook of research design in mathematics education,
2002. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Lesh, R., & Doerr, H. M. (2003). Beyond constructivism: Models and modeling perspectives
on mathematics teaching, learning, and problem solving. In R. Lesh & H. M. Doerr (Eds.),
Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Lesh, R., Hoover, M., Hole, B., Kelly, A., & Post, T. (2000). Principles for developing
thought-revealing activities for students and teachers. In A. Kelly & R. Lesh (Eds.),
Handbook of research design in mathematics and science education. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence

Lesh, R., & Kelly, A. (1997). Teachers' evolving conceptions of one-to-one tutoring: A three-
tiered teaching experiment. Journal for Research in Mathematics Education, 28(4), 398430.