Starting Point: Teaching and Learning Economics > Teaching Methods > Context-Rich Problems

# Context-Rich Problems

This material was originally developed within the Pedagogy in Action Portal

## What are Context-Rich Problems?

Context-rich problems are short realistic scenarios giving the students a plausible motivation for solving the problem. The problem is a short story (beginning with "you") in which the major character is the student. Context-rich problems are more complex than traditional problems, reflecting the real world, and may include excess information, or require the student to recall important background information.

You and your sister just inherited a discount bond. The bond has a face value of \$10,000 and matures in 5 years. You would like to hold onto the bond until maturity, but your sister wants her money now. She offers to sell you her half of the bond, but only if you give her a fair price. What is a fair price to offer her? How can you convince your sister it is a fair price?

## Why Teach with Context-Rich Problems?

Context-rich problems offer students opportunities to develop skills that extend beyond the problem in the question. Students learn problem-solving techniques they can apply in real life situations. By engaging in this type of problem solving, students develop expert-like thinking in the discipline.

## How to Teach with Context-Rich Problems

As you prepare to use context-rich problems, you will need to consider how to select or create an appropriate problem, implement context-rich problems in your class and assess what your students have done. There are context-rich problems ready-to-use for a number of topics, or you may wish to create your own context-rich problems. Note that students accustomed to working with traditional textbook questions will benefit from help in developing an effective problem-solving strategy as they learn to work with context-rich problems.

## Examples of Teaching with Context-Rich Problems

Ready to use examples from Economics and Physics are available. Reviewing examples from your own and other disciplines helps to reinforce the characteristics of a context-rich problem and can help you develop your own context-rich problems.

See examples of context-rich problems

## References

A wide range of sources including journal articles and web sites are available.