Tips on Improving Your Students’ Math Problem Solving Skills
In the world today, according to research it is said that out of 100% of students 85% hate solving maths, they either make maths their worst subject or hate the teacher that teaches the subject.
We all solve problems on a daily basis. Problem solving is not a skill that one is born with, it’s cultivated over time with practice and experience. Solving math helps students to develop the analytical and critical thinking skills required to be a good problem solver. Below are some specific tips on how students can solve their math problem.
It sounds easy enough, but inexperienced problem solvers often don’t know what they are solving for or what question is being asked. The teacher should always remind students to read the question very carefully and make sure they understand the question before solving.
Identify what information is given and what information is missing. This helps students to determine what they need to know in order to solve the problem.
Teachers should always encourage students to ask questions, this will help them fill in the gaps. The focus is to get additional facts and be able to make reasonable assumptions that will help to solve the problem. Have students think through how the additional information will help to change initial assumptions or hypotheses.
Encourage students to approach the solution in different ways and to talk through their thought process out loud. Often times, the students are able to answer their own question as they talk it out and teachers are able to understand their thought process and redirect as needed. Use props, draw pictures, write it out use any and all strategies that will help students ideate.
Encourage students to double check and ensure their solution actually answers the original question. Fact-check the answer to make sure it makes sense in the context of the original question.
Having a structured approach to problem solving is important but not sufficient. Going through the process of solving problems will help build students’ confidence as well as competence. Practice solving different types of problems and choose problems that are engaging, relevant and interesting to your students. Here are some resources to help students practice.
Cindy Bryant stressed the need for teachers and students to remember that productive struggle is part of the learning process. Praise effort and encourage students to learn from mistakes so that students become experienced problem solvers, become more comfortable with uncertainty and know how to tackle new problems.
On a final note, a teacher needs to work hand in hand with students, in a way that the students can develop genuine interest in maths solving, because it is one of the major issue in schools today.
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Article written by Titilayo Adewunmi
(Content developer at Edufirst.ng)