“Most students coming to our Tuition Centre at Indooroopilly say that they are having problems with Problem Solving or Word Sums,” says Mark Behr, the owner of NumberWorks’nWords Indooroopilly.

Generally, the problem is with vocabulary and the student’s inability to translate the English problem into a Mathematical equation. The only way to improve in this area is to learn strategies associated with Problem Solving and to practise, practise, practise.

Problem solving is a critical skill in school mathematics and an essential aspect of mathematical education. It involves using mathematical concepts, strategies, and reasoning to find solutions to real-world or abstract mathematical problems.

Effective problem solving not only helps students understand and apply mathematical concepts but also promotes critical thinking, creativity, and a deeper appreciation for mathematics.

Here’s a breakdown of understanding problem solving in school mathematics:

## Problem Identification

The first step in problem solving is recognising and understanding the problem. Students should read the problem carefully, identify the relevant information, and determine what is being asked.

## 1. Plan and Strategy

After understanding the problem, students need to develop a plan or strategy to solve it. This plan may involve choosing an appropriate mathematical technique, formula, or method. It might also involve breaking down a complex problem into smaller, manageable steps.

## 2. Execution

With a plan in place, students implement their chosen strategy to solve the problem. This often involves performing mathematical calculations, manipulating equaƟons, or using logical reasoning.

## 3. Evaluation

Once a solution is found, students should evaluate it to ensure it makes sense in the context of the problem. They should check their work for errors, assess the reasonableness of the solution, and consider whether it answers the original question.

## 4. Communication

Effective problem solving in mathematics often requires clear and concise communication of the solution. This may involve writing out the steps taken to arrive at the answer, providing explanations, and using appropriate mathematical language.

## 5. Reflection and Generalisation

Problem solving isn’t just about finding a single solution; it’s also about understanding the underlying principles. After solving a problem, students should reflect on the process and generalise their understanding to apply similar strategies to other problems.

## 6. Practise and Persistence

Problem solving is a skill that improves with practise. Students should work on a variety of mathematical problems regularly to develop their problem-solving skills. They should also be encouraged to persevere through challenges and setbacks.

## 7. Collaboration

Sometimes, problem solving in mathematics can be a collaborative effort. Students can benefit from discussing problems with peers, as it can lead to different perspectives and approaches.

## 8. Real-World Application

Problem-solving skills in mathematics have real-world applications beyond the classroom. Students should be encouraged to see how mathematical concepts can be used to solve problems in various fields, such as science, engineering, finance, and more.

## 9. Creativity and Critical Thinking

Problem solving often requires creative thinking and critical analysis. Encourage students to explore multiple approaches to problems, think outside the box, and question assumptions.

**Read: Understanding Inferential Comprehension**

Overall, problem solving in school mathematics is not just about finding answers but about developing a mindset and skill set that can be applied to various mathematical and real world challenges.

Effective problem solvers in mathematics are not necessarily those who always get the right answer on the first try, but those who are persistent, adaptable, and willing to learn from their mistakes.

Feel free to call Mark at NumberWorks’nWords Indooroopilly for a free, no-obligation assessment for your child. Better school results are just a phone call away.

*Published 10-October-2023*