Math Heuristics for Problem Solving
One key aspect of Singapore Math is the development of students’ critical thinking skills (a 21st Century Skill) through the use of math heuristics.
Math Heuristics are strategies that students can use to solve complex word problems, which can be solved in several ways using different heuristics, or by using a combination of heuristics.
To solve word problems efficiently, students must be familiar with both the problem-solving methods (heuristics) and the problem-solving process.
In Singapore Math, there are 12 heuristics in the Primary Math syllabus that can be grouped into four main categories:
1) To give a representation:
– Draw a diagram/model
– Draw a table
– Make a systematic list
2) To make a calculated guess:
– Look for pattern(s)
– Guess and Check
– Make suppositions
3) To go through the process:
– Act it out
– Work backwards
– Use the ‘Before-After’ concept
4) To change the problem:
– Restate the problem in another way
– Simplify the problem
– Solve part of the problem
Here are some examples of the heuristic ‘Act It Out’ that we go through during Math class.