This action research project explores the use of learning communities with cooperative learning strategies for mathematical problem solving, as well as the processes that students follow for mathematics problem solving. The researcher applied the action research cycle three times in this study. Each cycle consisted of five to six classes, addressing one theme in a vocational high school mathematics course. The action research cycle of teaching, in turn followed a series of steps: ‘generating interest’, ‘explaining the basic concepts of the unit’, ‘practicing mathematical problem solving processes with the students’, ‘letting the students discuss the problem solving strategies in groups’, and ‘letting the students share their ideas through presentations’. Using these five lesson activities can help the students “jump” ahead in learning, by ''listening'' to the voice of the other students, and encouraging students to speak their own ideas. The research findings include:
1. Leading students discuss with a partner from their learning community to review the concepts and definitions from the previous lesson helped arouse student interest and motivation to learn.
2. The teacher should select sufficiently complex problems for demonstration and explanation, such as word problems and similar questions for students to practice, so that students can get used to mimicking these problem-solving procedures.
3. When students meet in small groups to discuss concepts, time ought to be allowed for discussing both how to cooperate as a group, and following the problem solving steps from the lessons. The diversity of these activities benefits the students.
4. Instructors must allow the students sufficient time for group discussions of problem-solving procedures so that students can finish the required work. Furthermore, instructors must carefully control and manage the order in the classroom, so that students can study in peace.
5. Under the beneficial impact of peer discussions relating to mathematical problem solving, the problem-solving procedures being taught, as well as the students’ presentation skills both showed noticeable improvement.
6. The students were not able to develop the habit of looking back and checking while carrying out five problem-solving procedures.
7. Through the course of this action research, the researcher has matured as a facilitator of cooperative learning and learning communities.