To solve mathematical modelling problems, students must translate real-world situations, which are typically presented in text form, into mathematical models. To complete the translation process, the problem-solver must first understand the real-world situation. Therefore, reading comprehension can be considered an essential part of solving modelling problems, and fostering reading comprehension might lead to better modelling competence. Further, ease of comprehension and involvement have been found to increase interest in the learning material, and thus, improving reading comprehension might also increase interest in modelling. The aims of this study were to (a) determine whether providing students with reading comprehension prompts would improve the modelling sub-competencies needed to construct a model of the real-world situation and their interest in modelling and (b) analyze the hypothesized effects in two different educational environments (Germany and Taiwan). We conducted an experimental study of 495 ninth graders (201 German and 294 Taiwanese students). The results unexpectedly revealed that providing reading comprehension prompts did not affect the construction of a real-world model. Further, providing reading comprehension prompts improved students’ situational interest. The effects of providing reading comprehension prompts on the construction of a real-world model were similar in Germany and Taiwan. Students’ interest in modelling improved more in Germany. An in-depth quantitative analysis of students’ responses to reading prompts, their solutions, and their interest in the experimental group confirmed the positive relation between reading comprehension and modelling and indicated that the reading comprehension prompts were not sufficient for improving reading comprehension. Implications for future research are discussed.
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