1
Difficulty and Complexity Related to Problems and Solutions
Brittany Johns
Walden University
Dr. Mickey Washburn
MATH 6562, The Base Ten Number System and Operations: Addition/Subtraction
May 17, 2020

2
Difficulty and Complexity Related to Problems and Solutions
Students in early elementary grades are faced with a variety of mathematical situations
and are expected to be able to use at least one strategy to solve addition and subtraction
equations. Different situations can be more difficult for some students than others. Different
strategies pose different levels of difficulty. Some students may be able to use one strategy but
not be able to answer the same problem using a different strategy. Despite the difficulties it is
still crucial for educators to teach students problem solving in a variety of ways. Yayuk and
Husamah (2020) state, “Aside from being a tool to increase knowledge and help understand
everyday problems, problem-solving is also a way of thinking” (p. 362). The goal is for students
to begin with level one problem solving strategies and build their way to level three. Although,
some students may not be able to reach the upper levels, it is still important for students to
develop those problem-solving skills.
For this assignment I have created six different real-world problems, three addition and
three subtraction. The problems involve the three different situations: result unknown, change
unknown, and start unknown (Van de Walle et al., 2019). The problems also provide a solution
using either count on, count all, or the recomposing strategy (Fuson et al., 2011). With a
combination of the different situations and different strategies the problems are of varying
difficulty.
The first problem (appendix A) I created is an addition change unknown problem solved
with the count all strategy. The problem is Sam has five dogs. His friend has six dogs. How many
dogs do they have in all? A first-grade student may explain their solution by saying they knew