Problem Solving With Solution In Math

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). 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.

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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.

More recently the Council endorsed this recommendation (NCTM, 1989) with the statement that problem solving should underly all aspects of mathematics teaching in order to give students experience of the power of mathematics in the world around them.

They see problem solving as a vehicle for students to construct, evaluate and refine their own theories about mathematics and the theories of others. National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) (1980).

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.

Mathematicians who successfully solve problems say that the experience of having done so contributes to an appreciation for the 'power and beauty of mathematics' (NCTM, 1989, p.77), the "joy of banging your head against a mathematical wall, and then discovering that there might be ways of either going around or over that wall" (Olkin and Schoenfeld, 1994, p.43). 'Constructing meaningful understanding of mathematics content', in Aichele, D. (Eds.) Professional Development for Teachers of Mathematics , pp.

They also speak of the willingness or even desire to engage with a task for a length of time which causes the task to cease being a 'puzzle' and allows it to become a problem.

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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