Ten Problem Solving Strategies
Sometimes problems are posed that provide challenges for students. The following problem solving strategies outline different ways that the parent or home tutor can encourage students to find solutions and accept the challenge.
- Guess and CheckA guess and check approach requires careful attention to the important information in the problem. Often the resulting trial answer will be close to the solution. The next step in the process is to check the guessed answer against the conditions to determine if it is reasonable. If the answer is not reasonable the process is repeated until the correct solution is obtained.
- Look for a PatternTo look for a pattern is to examine a series of shapes, colours, numbers or a combination of these to ascertain whether a pattern emerges and repeats.
- Act It OutTo act it out involves going through actions which give the problem ‘concreteness.’ This reality makes it easier to discover relationships leading to a solution. For example: Actually use coins to solve a money problem.
- Make a Drawing or GraphDrawing a diagram or graph shows the connection between pieces of information pictorially and this in turn leads to solution.
- Write a Number SentenceThis strategy is usually used after one or more other strategies have been applied. The problem is expressed as a number sentence from a written statement.
- Make a ModelMaking a model is a way of visualising a problem by representing it concretely or pictorially.
- Make a TableMaking a table involves organising data in table form. It is an effi cient way of classifying data which will lead to the solution.
- Solve a Simpler Related ProblemSolving a simpler related problem involves setting aside the original problem and working through an easier, like example. The same solution method is then applied to the original problem.
- Work BackwardsIn problem solving, working backwards involves determining how the action or process ends and then working from the end position to the solution.
- Account for All PossibilitiesAccounting for all possibilities involves the systematic search for all possible solutions. It is usually achieved by constructing a table and looking for a pattern.