JOURNAL OF RESEARCH IN NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT VOLUME 8 NO 2, DECEMBER, 2010
EFFECT
OF
WEBBING
INSTRUCTIONAL STRATEGY ON STUDENTS’
ACHIEVEMENT IN ALGEBRAIC WORD PROBLEMS
A. B.
C. Orji and Uche Anaduaka
Department of Science and Environmental Education,
University of Abuja, Abuja, Nigeria
Email:sanaduaka@yahoo.com
Abstract
This study investigated the effectiveness of
webbing strategy on students’ achievement in
algebraic word problems. It also sought to find
out whether gender had any influence on the
achievement of students exposed to webbing
instructional strategy. A quasi –experimental
nonequivalent control group design was used. The
study was carried out in Gwagwalada Area Council,
FCT, Abuja, Nigeria. The sample consisted of 118
Senior Secondary Two (SSII) students drawn from
two randomly selected schools in the Area Council.
The instrument used for data collection was an
Algebraic Word Problem Achievement Test (AWPAT). A
reliability index of 0.78 was obtained for the
AWPAT. Data analysis was by mean, standard
deviation and analysis of covariance (ANCOVA).
Results revealed that webbing strategy
significantly improved students (male and female)
achievement in algebraic word problems. It was
therefore recommended among others that the
strategy be adopted for the teaching of
mathematics word problems in primary and secondary
schools.
Keywords:
Problems, achievement, learning, webbing strategy.
Introduction
The place of mathematics in the life of any nation
is closely linked with the place of development in
that nation. Mathematics plays an indispensable
role in realizing a nations’ dream of rapid
scientific and technological development. In fact,
no nation that wants to develop scientifically and
technologically neglects the mathematical aspect
of her school curriculum. Ihejieto (1989)
considers mathematics as the ingredient for the
effective articulation of the abstract elements of
science that gives impetus to the development of
technology. According to Ukeje (1997), without
mathematics there is no science, without science
there is no modern technology, and without modern
technology, there is no modern society.
The advantages of acquiring mathematical knowledge
are indeed so numerous. We are actually in a
mathematical world. Mathematics cuts across every
aspect of human life and opens up the mind to
logical reasoning and analytical thinking.
HarborPeters (2001) stated that the acquisition
of mathematical skills is mandatory for proper
intellectual development. This is why every
student needs to be given opportunity to learn as
much mathematics as he/she can in order to
function effectively and intelligently in the
society. However, it is common knowledge that many
students dislike mathematics and the thought of
the subject usually evokes phobia among students
in primary, secondary and tertiary institutions.
The scientific and technological revolution taking
place in the world today makes it imperative that
the schools give added emphasis to the development
of a student’s understanding and appreciation of
mathematical procedures and methods of reasoning
to be carried along. Students, more than ever
before need to be provided opportunities to
acquire and utilize mathematical procedures in
order to be able to properly analyze and
comprehend the complex situations that are
constantly arising in the affairs of our rapidly
changing technological society.
Algebra is a branch of mathematics that uses
mathematical statements to describe relationships
between things that vary over time. It involves
putting real life problems into equations and
solving them. The most important outcomes in the
study of algebra include the ability to think
logically, to use principles, to see
relationships, to pick out essentials, to analyze
and to organize. Every student therefore needs the
knowledge of algebra because it equips people with
problem solving skills and much more because of
the orderly way in which it enables individuals to
think. However, many students find solving
algebraic word problem extremely difficult.
Clement (1982) and Fajemidagba (1986) found that
students commit a lot of errors in word problem
solving in mathematics. Consequently that aspect
of mathematics is always poorly responded to in
both internal and external examinations by
students. Fajemidagba (1986) identified several
factors as responsible for the poor achievement of
students in mathematics word problems. According
to him, such factors include misconception of
mathematical statement which leads to errors.
Word problems consist of sentences. One therefore
needs to understand what is being asked for and
determine the key clues that can be used to find
solution to the problem. The webbing instructional
strategy is considered helpful in analyzing
problems of this sort. Webbing is a method of
visually representing relationships among ideas,
concepts or events [Saskatoon Public Schools,
2009]. According to Harding and Terrell (2006),
research in both educational theory and cognitive
psychology reveal that visual learning techniques
are among the very best methods for teaching
students of all ages how to think and how to
learn. With visual learning, they explained,
students use manipulative, diagrams and plots to
display large amounts of information in ways that
are easy to understand and help reveal
relationships and patterns.
Webbing as a visual learning technique involves
relating available information about a topic or
concept in a pictorial display. The technique
helps to develop students’ ability to perceive
relationships among ideas and concepts and to
encourage students to recall prior knowledge. It
can therefore be helpful in understanding and
remembering the many ideas in mathematics word
problems. With webbing, mathematical processes can
be broken down into logical steps so that students
can focus on one issue at a time. The structure of
webbing starts from a central idea, concept, topic
or question, gathering and linking thoughts until
a woven network of ideas evolves.
Webbing therefore encourages a thoughtful approach
to planning and organizing. According to Alaska
Department of Education and Early Development
(1996), webbing equips students with the skills of
sequencing, comparing and classifying to create
relationships of concepts and processes. It also
facilitates understanding of key concepts by
allowing students gradually drill down to the
basic points and ideas needed in solving a
problem. Webbing could be helpful in motivating,
increasing recall, assisting understanding,
combating boredom and organizing thoughts [Gardill
and Jitendra, 1999; McCarthyTucker, 1992].
This study therefore set out to empirically
ascertain the effectiveness of webbing strategy in
improving students’ achievement in algebraic word
problems.
Purpose of the study
The purpose of the study was to:
1.
Investigate the effectiveness of webbing strategy
in improving students’ achievement in algebraic
word problems.
2.
Determine the differential effect of webbing
strategy on students’ achievement in algebraic
word problems for male and female students.
Research questions
The following research questions guided the study
1.
What is the difference in the mean achievement
scores of students taught algebraic word problems
with webbing strategy and those taught with the
conventional approach?
2.
What is the difference in the mean achievement
scores of male and female students taught
algebraic word problems with webbing strategy?
Hypothesis
The following null hypotheses were tested at 0.05
level of significance
Ho1:
There is no significant difference in the mean
achievement scores of students taught algebraic
problems with webbing strategy and those taught
with the conventional approach.
Ho2:
There is no significant difference in the mean
achievement scores of male and female students
taught algebraic word problems with webbing
strategy.
Ho3:
The interaction effect of webbing strategy and
gender on students’ mean achievement scores in
algebraic word problems is not statistically
significant.
Methodology
The study is a quasiexperimental factorial design
with the variables in the study crossed in a 2×2
fashion. The design involved the nonequivalent
pretest posttest control group as a result of the
use of intact classes. The study was conducted in
Gwagwalada Area Council of the Federal Capital
Territory, Abuja, Nigeria. The population of the
study comprised all Senior Secondary Two (SSII)
students in secondary schools in the Area Council.
Most of the secondary schools in the Area Council
are private coeducational schools. Two of such
schools were therefore through purposive sampling
selected for this study. The sample consisted of
118 SSII students who were members of four intact
classes drawn from the two selected schools. Two
arms of SSII were drawn from each school and were
randomly assigned experimental or control group.
Each group therefore was based in one school.
Altogether there were 62 students in the
experimental group and 56 students in the control
group. In terms of gender, there were 32 males and
30 females in the experimental group and 25 males
and 31 females in the control group.
Teaching of both groups in their schools was done
by their regular mathematics teachers using lesson
plans prepared and validated by the researchers.
This was to control experimenter’s bias and to
reduce Hawthorne’s effect. All other extraneous
variables were also adequately controlled. The job
of the researchers during the experimental period
was therefore supervisory to ensure that the
lesson plans were adhered to strictly. Students in
the experimental group were taught algebraic word
problems using webbing strategy. Each topic or
question to be discussed was charted or displayed.
The teacher then guided a brainstorming session
during which students were encouraged to come up
with ideas and understanding related to the topic
or question. The ideas were discussed and sieved
and the relevant ones recorded in clusters or
categorized around the displayed topic or
question. This generally took a hierarchical or
tree branch format with ideas branching into their
subsection. Their counterparts in the control
group were taught the same content using the
conventional method of delivering lessons.
The instrument for data collection was an
Algebraic Word Problem Achievement Test (AWPAT).
The AWPAT was a 20 item multiple choice test with
four options developed by the researchers from the
content area taught to the students. A test blue
print was used to put the items together. The
ability process dimension of the test blue print
was divided into lower cognitive and higher
thinking processes. The 40:60 ratio for lower
cognitive and higher thinking processes
recommended for senior secondary classes by the
National Policy on Education (Obodo, 2004) was
adopted. Three experts in mathematics education
and measurement and evaluation checked the AWPAT
for face validity. A reliability index of 0.78 was
obtained for the instrument using KuderRichardson
Formula 20.
The AWPAT was first administered on the sample
(experimental and control groups) before the
commencement of the experiment to be able to
ascertain both the effect of treatment and the
homogeneity of the groups. Data from the
administration were collected and kept and then
the experiment began. The experiment lasted for
four weeks excluding the days used in training the
research assistants. All lessons stopped at the
end of the fourth week and the AWPAT was
readministered to both groups. Data collected
were analyzed using mean and standard deviation to
answer the research questions and a 2 way (2×2)
analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) was used to test
the hypotheses.
Results
The results obtained are presented in the tables
below in answer to the research questions asked
and the hypotheses formulated.
Research question one
What is the difference in the mean achievement
scores of students taught algebraic word problems
with webbing strategy and those taught with the
conventional approach?
Table 1: Mean and standard deviation of students’
scores in pre and post treatment AWPAT

Pretreatment 
Posttreatment



Group 
N 
Mean
SD 
Mean
SD 
Mean Diff 
Exp
Control 
62
56 
24.54
6.31
24.58
6.19 
63. 56
7.50
41. 39
6.53 
39.02
16.81 
Diff in
Mean 

0.04 
22.17 

From
the table above, it could be seen that the two
groups were relatively equivalent at the initial
stage with mean scores of 24.54 and 24.58
respectively. However, in the post test, the
experimental group had a mean score of 63.52 while
the mean score of the control group was 41.39. The
difference in the mean scores of the two groups at
that stage was found to be 22.17 as against 0.07
obtained in the pretest analysis. To ascertain
whether this observed difference was significant,
hypothesis one was tested.
Ho1:
There is no significant difference between the
mean achievement scores of students taught
algebraic word problems with webbing strategy and
those taught with the conventional approach.
Table 2: Analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) of
students’ scores in AWPAT (Teaching method x
Gender).
Source of variance 
Sum of squares

DF 
Mean squares 
F 
Significant

Corrected model
Intercept
Pretreatment
Teaching method
Gender
Teaching method*Gender
Error
Total
Corrected Total 
9915.137
3949.749
837.579
5963.554
44.134
2.329
1861.516
144873.000
11776.65 
4
1
1
1
1
1
113
118
117 
2478.784
3949.749
837.579
5963.554
44.134
2.329
16.474 
150.470
239.762
2.844
362.007
2.679
.141 
.000
.000
.062
.000
.104
.708 
Table 2 above shows that the computed Fratio for
the effect of the teaching strategy on achievement
of students in algebraic word problems was 362.007
which is significant at P value of .00. Therefore
at a higher P value of .05, the effect is also
significant. This leads to the rejection of the
null hypothesis of no significant difference in
the mean achievement scores of students taught
with webbing strategy and those taught with the
conventional approach.
Research question two.
What is the difference in the mean achievement
scores of male and female students taught
algebraic word problems with webbing strategy?
Table 3: Mean and standard deviation of students’
scores in the pre and post treatment AWPAT by
gender.

Pretreatment 
Posttreatment



Group 
Gender 
N 
Mean
SD 
Mean
SD 
Mean Diff 
Exp

Male
Female 
32
30 
25.19
6.67
23.78
5.78 
63.81
7.34
63.25
7.64 
38.62
39.47 
Diff in
Mean 


1.41 
0.56 

From table
3 above, the male students of the experimental
group had a mean score of 25.19 in the
pretreatment AWPAT while the female students of
the same group had a mean score of 23.78 with a
difference in mean of 1.41 between the two groups.
When the AWPAT was readministered after
treatment, a high mean score of 63.81 was obtained
for the male students and an equally high mean
mark of 63.25 was got for the female students
group with a difference in mean of only 0.56. For
valid decision to be taken on the influence of
gender on students’ achievement in algebraic word
problems with webbing strategy, hypotheses two was
tested.
Ho2:
There is no significant difference in the mean
achievement scores of male and female students
taught algebraic word problems with webbing
strategy.
Table 2 shows that the computed Fratio for the
effect of gender on students’ achievement was
2.679 which is not significant at P value of 0.5.
Therefore, the null hypothesis stands accepted
Ho3:
The interaction effect of webbing strategy and
gender on students’ mean achievement scores in
algebraic word problems is not statistically
significant.
Table 2 shows that the computed F ratio for the
interaction effect of teaching strategy and gender
on students’ achievement in algebraic word
problems was 0.141 which is not significant at an
alpha level of 0.05. The null hypothesis is
therefore accepted. This means that there is no
significant effect of the interaction between
treatment and gender on students’ achievement in
algebraic word problems.
Discussion of results
Results of data analysis presented in tables 1 and
2 show that students taught algebraic word
problems using the conventional approach obtained
a mean score of 41.39. However with the webbing
strategy, students in the experimental group
performed significantly better in the AWPAT with
an average score of 63.56. This finding is
consistent with the results of the researches
conducted by Clement (1982) and Fajemidagba (1986)
that found that students ordinarily do not do well
in algebraic word problems especially when taught
with the conventional approach. The result
demonstrates the effectiveness of webbing strategy
in bringing about significant improvement in the
achievement scores of students in algebraic word
problems. It therefore supports the report by
Harding and Terrell (2006) that it has been found
that visual learning technique is one of the best
methods of teaching students how to learn and
think and to be enthusiastic about learning.
During the experiment, it was noticed that the
experimental group’s morale and enthusiasm was
high and they were seen showing great interest in
the lessons. Creating a web of information
relating to every question portrayed the need for
students to be problem solvers and thinkers and
not just memorizers of rules and the students
found this very enjoyable.
It was observed in this study that for male and
female students, there is no significant
difference in their achievement in algebraic word
problems when they are both taught with webbing
strategy. Some other teaching strategies have been
found to favor a particular sex more than the
other when applied in the classroom
(HarborPeters, 2001). The
result of this study, however, shows that webbing
strategy is not one of such as it has proved to be
quite suitable for any gender.
Conclusion
It is indeed clear from the findings of this study
that students’ phobia for mathematics may not
actually be that they do not understand its value
and usefulness. Students fear for mathematics
(especially word problems) and their consequent
poor achievement in it, may be as a result of the
method of teaching the subject/topic. It therefore
behooves every mathematics teacher to tap the
riches of webbing strategy so as to bring about
improved performance of their students in
mathematics and especially word problems.
Recommendations
The following recommendations are therefore
made:
1)
Webbing strategy should be adopted in the teaching
of mathematics word problems in primary and
secondary schools.
2)
Curriculum planners should incorporate the
technique in the curriculum of teacher education
so as to enable teacher trainees acquire the
skills necessary for the use and application of
the strategy.
3)
Seminars, Conferences and Workshops should be
organized for mathematics teachers to expose them
to the use and application of webbing strategy
especially in teaching and learning of mathematics
word problems.
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