When it comes to maths, many schools teach skills and tell students that they must memorise formulas, facts, and functions without any applicability, which is essential when they face real challenges involving maths.
In the real world, students are unlikely to have nice problems that can be tackled easily. Students will face complex math problems that require a lot of preparation. That is why educators should help and prepare their students by teaching them problem-solving skills. No doubt, maths is not an easy subject to teach, and you can read more about that here.
Why problem-solving skills are important?
Students develop problem-solving skills at different rates, so they must learn to tackle problems with creativity and resilience since they will also learn to cope with setbacks.
Problem-solving skills are important in maths and science, but people will to be able to solve problems when they face other complex academic subjects and interpersonal issues as they mature.
Why students struggle with problem solving in maths
The most significant issue while learning math is that students lack an in-depth understanding of the basic concepts. Students are often taught skills, and then it is expected they will be able to solve problems involving these skills. The problem is, they do not actually understand the concepts behind the skills they are learning. This becomes a significant issue, because no matter how they try to develop their problem-solving skills, they cannot solve even the less difficult maths problems they encounter without the basic understanding of the concepts.
Teachers must need to first lay down the foundation before moving forward. Just think of math as a building blocks, and if the foundation is not laid properly, the blocks will eventually fall apart.
How to assist students with problem solving problems
Teachers have different teaching styles and methods, but it is important for all teachers to help their students develop their creative thinking to quickly generate ideas, see things in a different way, or use materials in unique ways. Creative thinkers are also willing to take risk, to experiment and even make mistakes until they eventually solve the given problem.
It’s also essential for teachers to encourage their students to break down the problem into parts, so they can easily analyse them. They can then sort it, classify, and apply the concepts they have learned throughout the years.
How to incorporate problem solving into every lesson
Here is one idea that teachers could use:
For every maths lesson, start with an open-ended question that uses the skills that will be taught that day. This will give students the opportunity to read the question carefully and try to figure out what to do to solve the problem.
As students become interested and engaged with the problem, they will be more engaged with learning the skills and developing an understanding of their application.
Overall, we recommend that teachers incorporate problem-solving into every maths lesson because this will help their students become better mathematical thinkers.