Problem-solving in mathematics is one of the skills that have to be mastered by elementary school teacher candidates. This study aimed to analyze the difficulties of prospective elementary school teachers at the Universitas Muhammadiyah Malang (UMM) in item problem solving for mathematics. This research was a descriptive exploratory with a qualitative approach. The subjects were elementary school teacher education students at the UMM, who attended the Elementary School Mathematics Learning course II, totaling of 38 students. The instrument used was a mathematical problem based on HOTS, while the interview and observation referred to problem-solving strategies based on Polya's steps (ability to understand problems, ability to plan problems, ability to act based on a plan, and ability to re-check answers). Data analysis was performed by analyzing the written answer sheets of the subjects while coding and grouping the subject's learning styles. The data from the interview and observation were analyzed with content analysis. The results showed that students still experienced difficulties in all Polya’s steps. The ability of problem-solving based on Polya's steps include understanding the problem, planning, and writing strategies, as well as carrying out activities according to plan. The results of the study stated that only 5.3% of students were in a good category. Students also have had difficulty in re-checking answers, because only 8% of students did the work correctly. It can be concluded that the ability of problem-solving in Mathematics based on Polya's steps was still relatively weak.
Polya’s steps, prospective elementary school teachers, problem solving