Problem-solving in Mathematics
In solving any problems, it helps to have a working procedure. You might want to consider this four-step procedure:
Understand, Plan, Try It, and Look Back.
Before you can solve a problem you must first understand it. Read and re-read the problem carefully to find all the clues and determine what the question is asking you to find.
What is the unknown?
What are the data?
What is the condition?
Once you understand the question and the clues, it’s time to use your previous experience with similar problems to look for strategies and tools to answer the question.
Do you know a related problem?
Look at the unknown! And try to think of a familiar problem having the same or a similar unknown?
Try It —
After deciding on a plan, you should try it and see what answer you come up with.
Can you see clearly that the step is correct?
But can you also prove that the step is correct?
Look Back —
Once you’ve tried it and found an answer, go back to the problem and see if you’ve really answered the question. Sometimes it’s easy to overlook something. If you missed something check your plan and try the problem again.
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