What Is Math Problem Solving

More recently, teachers have come to understand that becoming mathematically literate is also a complex problem-solving activity that increases in power and flexibility when practiced more often.A problem in mathematics is any situation that must be resolved using mathematical tools but for which there is no immediately obvious strategy.By the time young children enter school they are already well along the pathway to becoming problem solvers.

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The challenge for teachers is ensuring the problems they set are designed to support mathematics learning and are appropriate and challenging for all students.

The problems need to be difficult enough to provide a challenge but not so difficult that students can’t succeed.

Learning takes place within social settings (Vygotsky, 1978).

Students construct understandings through engagement with problems and interaction with others in these activities.

This making sense of experience is an ongoing, recursive process.

We have known for a long time that reading is a complex problem-solving activity.

“A problem-solving curriculum, however, requires a different role from the teacher.

Rather than directing a lesson, the teacher needs to provide time for students to grapple with problems, search for strategies and solutions on their own, and learn to evaluate their own results.

Mathematics education is important not only because of the “gatekeeping role that mathematics plays in students’ access to educational and economic opportunities,” but also because the problem-solving processes and the acquisition of problem-solving strategies equips students for life beyond school (Cobb, & Hodge, 2002).

The importance of problem-solving in learning mathematics comes from the belief that mathematics is primarily about reasoning, not memorization.

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