Problem Solving Skills Math

Problem Solving Skills Math-17
Specific characteristics of a problem-solving approach include: My early problem-solving courses focused on problems amenable to solutions by Polya-type heuristics: draw a diagram, examine special cases or analogies, specialize, generalize, and so on.

Specific characteristics of a problem-solving approach include: My early problem-solving courses focused on problems amenable to solutions by Polya-type heuristics: draw a diagram, examine special cases or analogies, specialize, generalize, and so on.

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For these reasons problem solving can be developed as a valuable skill in itself, a way of thinking (NCTM, 1989), rather than just as the means to an end of finding the correct answer.

Many writers have emphasised the importance of problem solving as a means of developing the logical thinking aspect of mathematics.

A further reason why a problem-solving approach is valuable is as an aesthetic form.

Problem solving allows the student to experience a range of emotions associated with various stages in the solution process.

Through a problem-solving approach, this aspect of mathematics can be developed.

Presenting a problem and developing the skills needed to solve that problem is more motivational than teaching the skills without a context. However, although it is this engagement which initially motivates the solver to pursue a problem, it is still necessary for certain techniques to be available for the involvement to continue successfully. Report of the Committee of Inquiry into the Teaching of Mathematics in Schools, London: Her Majesty's Stationery Office. Hence more needs to be understood about what these techniques are and how they can best be made available. Problem solving is, however, more than a vehicle for teaching and reinforcing mathematical knowledge and helping to meet everyday challenges. It is also a skill which can enhance logical reasoning. As she says, most people have developed 'rules of thumb' for calculating, for example, quantities, discounts or the amount of change they should give, and these rarely involve standard algorithms. Training in problem-solving techniques equips people more readily with the ability to adapt to such situations. As the emphasis has shifted from teaching problem solving to teaching via problem solving (Lester, Masingila, Mau, Lambdin, dos Santon and Raymond, 1994), many writers have attempted to clarify what is meant by a problem-solving approach to teaching mathematics. The focus is on teaching mathematical topics through problem-solving contexts and enquiry-oriented environments which are characterised by the teacher 'helping students construct a deep understanding of mathematical ideas and processes by engaging them in doing mathematics: creating, conjecturing, exploring, testing, and verifying' (Lester et al., 1994, p.154). The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM, 1980) recommended that problem solving be the focus of mathematics teaching because, they say, it encompasses skills and functions which are an important part of everyday life. Furthermore it can help people to adapt to changes and unexpected problems in their careers and other aspects of their lives.

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