Quite often when people hear “problem solving” and math, their eyes glass over and they almost lose consciousness!

Yet even though it has a reputation for being extremely difficult, problem solving can truly help a student learn math skills as well as become more proficient at learning life reasoning skills!

I found this article at Article Alley by Dennis McLynn that I’d like to share with you.

Learning Math Through Problem Solving

Problem solving is an important component of mathematics education. It is a method that enables students to achieve a functional and logical understanding of math. Mathematics is an essential subject because of its practical role to the individual and society. Through a problem-solving approach, this practical aspect of mathematics can be developed. Problem solving is a method for students to construct, evaluate, and refine theories about mathematics.

Presenting a math problem to students and developing the skills needed to solve that problem is more motivational than teaching the skills without context. Such motivation gives problem solving special value as a method for learning new concepts and skills or reinforcing skills already acquired. Learning mathematics through problem solving can create a context which mimics real life and justifies the mathematics rather than treating it as an end in itself.

Problem solving is more than a process for teaching and reinforcing mathematical knowledge and helping to meet everyday challenges. It is also a skill which can enhance logical reasoning. Individuals cannot function optimally in society by simply knowing the rules to follow to obtain a correct answer. They also need to be able to determine which process a situation requires. Problem solving can be developed as a valuable skill in itself, as a way of thinking, rather than just the means to an end of finding the correct answer.

One of the goals of teaching math through problem solving is to encourage students to refine and build their own processes over time, as their experiences allow them to discard some ideas and become aware of additional possibilities. In addition to developing knowledge, students can also develop an understanding of when it is appropriate to use specific strategies. In this approach, the emphasis is on making students more responsible for their own learning. There is considerable importance placed on exploratory activities, observation and discovery, and trial and error.

Problem solving should be the focus of teaching and learning math because it encompasses skills and functions which are an important part of everyday life. It can also help people adapt to changes and unforeseen problems in their careers and other parts of their lives. Problem solving should underlie each aspect of mathematics teaching in order for students to experience of the power of math in the world around them.

By: Dennis McLynn

Dennis McLynn is the Vice President of Strategic Marketing & Business Development for High Points Learning. HighPoints Learning (HPL) is a leader in Web-based math education and instruction. HPL offers an online math tutoring program that helps raise participants’ math scores an average of 15 points in pre and post testing. HighPoints Learning services the 3-12 grade market. For more information visit: ehighpoints.com

So Mr. McLynn makes some good points, right? Did he succeed in making you less fearful of word problems?

Let me know!

Have a great day!