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Evaluation of the Bar Model method: strengths and limitations

Evaluation of the Bar Model method
Two skyscrapers
© University of Southampton


  • An easy-to-learn visual representation of the quantities and the relationships between the quantities in solving maths problems.

  • Good for all students but especially for underachieving or intermediate-level students.

  • Good for solving basic maths problems in primary maths.

  • Good for solving arithmetic problems involving four operations of whole number, decimals, fractions, rate and ratio, and percentage problems.

  • When used effectively, the model method can be a very powerful tool in solving even complex maths problems.

  • Could provide a bridge from arithmetic to algebra in students‘ learning in mathematics.


  • Not very applicable for solving maths problems in geometry and statistics.

  • For high-performing students, it might be not so helpful, and sometimes it could be a burden.

  • Drawing the length of different parts of the rectangle bars could be difficult, and sometimes the length cannot be known until the problems are solved.

  • Over-relying on model methods might make it harder for students to develop innovative and creative thinking.

  • Over-relying on model methods might make it harder for students to learn algebra.

Suggestion: Teachers should learn what the Bar Model method is, and how it can be used effectively in classrooms.

© University of Southampton
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