Teaching strategies in problem solving

Year: 2002

Author: Griffin, Patrick, Mak, Andy, Wu, Margaret, Dulhunty, Mark

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

In November, 2001, a problem solving test was administered to 1500 students in Australia. Questions in the test were grouped into three categories: application, reasoning and classifications. They were to test the problem solving skills of the students rather than their mathematics knowledge. The results showed that students in general performed better in problems on application which are more knowledge oriented. Performance in the other two categories revealed that there was a lack of cognitive and metacognitive skills related to problem solving among the students.

Based on these findings, a 20 unit problem solving course is designed for the students. The course material is organised into two parts. Part I (Units 1-5) focuses on four essential cognitive processes generally applicable to all problem solving tasks. Part II focuses on specific problem solving strategies and problem types. The intention of the sequencing of the units is to first promote key metacognitive awareness so that students can apply these principles in the latter part of course.

The paper discussed the design of the teaching material and the classroom interaction of the teachers and the students during the course. The progress of the students through out the course will also be examined.