Context-Rich Problem Solving Strategies

Help your students learn how to solve complex problems by giving them strategies to follow (Heller, Keith & Anderson, 1992)

1. Visualize the problem:

Translate the problem into a visual one. What graphs or diagrams do you need to use? Draw them and restate the question.

2. Describe in terms appropriate for the discipline:

Use your understanding of the concepts and principles in the discipline to analyze and represent the problem. What concepts and terms are important in solving this problem? Use appropriate symbols.

3. Plan a solution:

Decide what steps you need to follow. Evaluate known information. Is it relevant? Determine if there is enough information to solve the problem. If not, how can you get that information?

4. Execute a plan:

Use tools and concepts from the discipline to solve the problem.

5. Check and evaluate:

Use intuition to check your work. Is the solution complete? Is the answer of the expected sign and magnitude?