Mathematical modeling of tech-related real-world problems for secondary school-level mathematics

Zehavit Kohen, Doron Orenstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


The use of authentic real-world problems that reflect the applied nature of mathematics is not prevalent in formal secondary school settings. In this study, we explore the interface between workplace mathematics, particularly tech-related real-world (TRW) problems, and school mathematics, through the explication of mathematical modeling. The research questions are (1) in which tech domains can real-world problems be identified that can be addressed using mathematical modeling for the secondary school level? (2) Which methods do engineers use to simplify tech-related problems for non-experts in their field? (3) In which areas in the secondary mathematics curriculum can TRW problems be mapped? We present a three-phase model which yielded the creation of a pool of 169 TRW problems. The first two phases of the model included extracting authentic problems from the work of tech engineers and simplifying them to be meaningful or perceivable to students. These were explored by conducting task-oriented interviews with senior tech engineers and scientists from leading companies and universities. The third phase was accomplished by interviewing mathematics education experts, and included verifying the compatibility of the problems with the formal, secondary-level mathematics curriculum. The study has methodological, theoretical, and practical contributions. These include methodology that enables identifying TRW problems that are compliant with the secondary mathematics curriculum; adding to the literature about mathematical modeling by demonstrating the interface between workplace mathematics and school mathematics; and creating a large pool of TRW problems that can be used in secondary school math lessons.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)71-91
Number of pages21
JournalEducational Studies in Mathematics
Issue number1
StatePublished - May 2021
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, The Author(s).


  • Mathematical modeling
  • Real-world problems
  • School mathematics
  • Workplace mathematics


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