Teacher's Role in Problem Solving

  1. Give suggestions not answers
  2. Offer a problem solving heuristic
  3. Teach a variety of problem solving strategies
  4. Allow time for the students to struggle with the problem
  5. Choose problems that require time to think through a solution
  6. Provide a variety of problems
  7. Allow students time to practice a heuristic and strategies
  8. Give similar or the same problem in different ways
  9. Ask questions that encourage students to:
    • think divergently
    • explain how they are thinking.
    • to share strategies
    • think of other ways that the same problem could be asked
    • think of real life problems that are or relate to the problem
    • discover different problems that can be solved with the same strategy
    • discover multiple ways to solve the problem
    • reflect or check their solutions
    • reflect and discuss how they imagined a certain strategy might be possible
    • explain why they have confidence in their solutions
  10. Provide encouragement and appreciation:
    • appreciate different solutions and strategies
    • encourage students to find multiple solutions to a problem
    • encourage students to take time to solve problems
    • compliment students on good problem solving strategies whether they reach a solution or not
    • make sure students know what a compliment or praise specifically relates to about the problem and problem solving
    • encourage students to keep trying and to learn by correcting mistakes
    • let students know that problem solving is difficult and rewarding
    • share and discuss attitudes and dispositions that are conducive to problem solving
  11. Be a role model:
    • solve problems yourself
    • make problem solving a top priority
    • let students know that problem solving is an integral part of your curriculum
    • look for and comment on problem - solving situations anywhere they occur
    • imbed teaching and learning in a problem - solving format
    • use sketches, manipulatives, charts, graphs, and any other kind of representation that can thought of
    • Use problem solving strategies and vocabulary

Dr. Robert Sweetland's Notes ©