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From the curricular point of view, routine problem solving involves using at least one of the four arithmetic operations and/or ratio to solve problems that are practical in nature. Routine problem solving concerns to a large degree the kind of problem solving that serves a socially useful function that has immediate and future payoff. Children typically do routine problem solving as early as age 5 or 6. They combine and separate things such as toys in the course of their normal activities. Adults are regularly called upon to do simple and complex routine problem solving.

Here is an example. A sales promotion in a store advertises a jacket regularly priced at $125.98 but now selling for 20% off the regular price. The store also waives the tax. You have $100 in your pocket (or $100 left in your charge account). Do you have enough money to buy the jacket? As adults, and as children, we normally want to solve certain kinds of problems (such as the one above) in a way that reflects an µAha, I know what is going on here and this is what I need to do to figure out the answer.¶ reaction to the problem. We do not want to guess and check or think backwards or make use of similar strategies. Invariably, solving such problems involves using at least one of the four arithmetic operations (and/or ratio). Being good at doing arithmetic (e. g. adding two numbers: mentally, by pencil and paper, with manipulatives, by punching numbers in a calculator) does not guarantee success at solving routine problems. The critical matter is knowing what arithmetic to do in the first place. Actually doing the arithmetic is secondary to the matter. A mathematics researcher interviewed children about how they solve routine problems. One boy reported his method as follows: If there were two numbers and they were both

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division has only one meaning: splitting up into equal groups. The decision should be made on the basis of IDENTIFYING WHAT IS GOING ON IN THE PROBLEM. Subtraction. on the other hand. This approach requires understanding the meanings of the arithmetic operations. he divided. Not enough students and adults are good at solving routine problems. If it did not come out even.big. research tells us that it is likely the norm. 2 . he subtracted. there are more than four distinct meanings that can be attached to the operations. Research also tells us that in order for students to be good at routine problem solving they need to learn the meanings of the arithmetic operations (and the concept of ratio) well and in ways that are based on real and familiar experiences. Once students understand the meaning of an arithmetic operation they have a powerful conceptual tool to apply to solving routine problems. That decision cannot be made in the manner done by the boy of the research anecdote. he multiplied. The primary strategy becomes deciding on what arithmetic operation to use. While there are only four arithmetic operations. The other interesting aspect of all of this is that the child had done quite well at solving routine problems throughout his school career. What does this say about teaching practice? What does this say about assessing what children understand? Is the case of the boy an isolated incident or is it the norm? Unfortunately. If there was one large and one small number. has at least two meanings: taking away something away from one set or comparing two sets . For example.

Solving routine problems should at some point involve solving complex problems. Non-routine problem solving is mostly concerned with developing students¶ mathematical reasoning power and fostering the understanding that mathematics is a creative endeavour. They do not rely on manipulating concrete materials. and concepts (MAINTENANCE 3 . From the point of view of students. Non-routine Problem Solving Non-routine problem solving serves a different purpose than routine problem solving. Rather. While routine problem solving concerns solving problems that are useful for daily living (in the present or in the future). to deepen and extend understandings of algorithms. From the point of view of planning classroom instruction. non-routine problem solving can be challenging and interesting. skills. Complexity can be achieved through multi-step problems (making use of more than one arithmetic operation) or through Fermi problems. Refer to Using arithmetic operation meanings to solve routine problems for details. non-routine problem solving concerns that only indirectly. they rely on representing what is going on in a problem by selecting from a limited set of mathematical templates or models. teachers can use non-routine problem solving to introduce ideas (EXPLORATORY stage of teaching). nor on using strategies such as 'guess and check' or µthink backwards¶.The research evidence suggests that good routine problem solvers have a repertoire of automatic symbol-based and context-based responses to problem situations. It is advisable to do both.

in other words. Find as many pairs of 2-digit stubborn numbers as you can. The strategies suggested below are teachable to 4 . and eureka. From the point of view of students growing to adulthood. There are other uses as well. That is in sharp contrast to routine problem solving where there are readily identifiable models (the meanings of the arithmetic operations and the associated templates) to apply to problem situations. Having students do non-routine problem solving can encourage the move from specific to general thinking. There are 6 pairs in all (not including 35 & 41). The result is 1435. Solving problems like the one above normally requires a search for a strategy that seeks to discover a solution (a heuristic). Notice that all four digits of the two multipliers reappear in the product of 1435 (but they are rearranged).stage of teaching). One could call numbers such as 35 and 41 as pairs of stubborn numbers because their digits reappear in the product when the two numbers are multiplied together. There is no convenient model or solution path that is readily available to apply to solving a problem. There are many strategies that can be used for solving unfamiliar or unusual problems. The following is an example of a problem that concerns non-routine problem solving. and demanding world. complex. Consider what happens when 35 is multiplied by 41. encourage the ability to think in more abstract ways. that ability is becoming more important in today¶s technological.¶ reaction. I finally figured it out. That involves a search for heuristics (strategies seeking to discover). Non-routine problem solving can be seen as evoking an µI tried this and I tried that. and to motivate and challenge students (EXPLORATORY and MAINTENANCE stages of teaching).

the extent that teachers can encourage and help students to identify. There are 9 circles and 9 numbers to place in the circles. My grandmother gave me 85 cents. we cannot find nice. tidy methods of solution for all problems. How many cents do I have now? Problem 2 Place the numbers 1 to 9. non-routine problem solving cannot be approached in an automatized way as can routine problem solving. My father gave me 45 cents. we will be confronted with a situation that evokes the response. To say that another way. and to use them.´ Example for routine and non-routine problem solving Problem 1 My mom gave me 35 cents. let me see what I can try. Inevitably. one in each circle so that the sum of the four numbers along any of the three sides of the triangle is 20. However. 5 . ³I haven't got much of a clue how to do this. to understand. Each circle must have a different number in it.

6 . Early on his uncle tried to convince him to go into the mathematics field but he wanted to study law like his late father had. finally graduating with a degree. you are told to add by the word µsum¶. He tired of that and switched to Biology and the again switched to Latin and Literature. In problem 2. 1996) maintained that the skill of problem was not an inborn quality but. After a time at law school he became bored with all the legal technicalities he had to memorize. Understanding addition as modeling a µput together¶ action does not help you with solving problem 2. you need to figure out that you need to add.In problem 1. Gregor struggled due to his lack of problem solving skills. His first job was to tutor Gregor the young son of a baron. He was an excellent problem solver. Polya (Reimer. Polya (Long. Understanding addition as modeling a µput together¶ action helps you realize that. Polya¶s Problem Solving Model Background of George Polya(1887 ± 1985) George Polya was a Hungarian who immigrated to the United States in 1940. Yet. something that could be taught. His major contribution is for his work in problem solving. He found he loved math. Guess and check is a useful strategy to begin with. but the matter really concerns a search for strategies to apply to the problem. Growing up he was very frustrated with the practice of having to regularly memorize information. 1995) spent hours and developed a method of problem solving that would work for Gregor as well as others in the same situation. Being good at arithmetic might help you a bit. he tired of that quickly and went back to school and took math and physics.

In 1945 he published the book How to Solve It which quickly became his most prized publication. He taught many classes to elementary and secondary classroom teachers on how to motivate and teach skills to their students in the area of problem solving. Weber. In this text he identifies four basic principles. at Stanford University. Several years later he published a paper proving that if the walk continued long enough that one was sure to return to the starting point. In 1940 he and his wife moved to the United States because of their concern for Nazism in Germany (Long. He quickly became well known for his research and teachings on problem solving. 7 . Switzerland. He mentioned to his wife ?how could it be possible to meet them so many times when he randomly chose different paths through the garden?. They spent 67 years together. He taught briefly at Brown University and then. While in Switzerland he loved to take afternoon walks in the local garden. His major contribution is for his work in problem solving. He later did experiments that he called the random walk problem. 1996). George Polya was a Hungarian who immigrated to the United States in 1940.He was invited to teach in Zurich. There he worked with a Dr. for the remainder of his life. One day he met a young couple also walking and chose another path. He continued to do this yet he met the same couple six more times as he strolled in the garden. It sold over one million copies and has been translated into 17 languages. One day he met the doctor¶s daughter Stella he began to court her and eventually married her.

He continued to do this yet he met the same couple six more times as he strolled in the garden. He later did experiments that he called the random walk problem. Several years later he published a paper proving that if the walk continued long enough that one was sure to return to the starting point. Early on his uncle tried to convince him to go into the mathematics field but he wanted to study law like his late father had. He found he loved math. One day he met a young couple also walking and chose another path. 1995) spent hours and developed a method of problem solving that would work for Gregor as well as others in the same situation. Switzerland. After a time at law school he became bored with all the legal technicalities he had to memorize. Yet. something that could be taught. He was an excellent problem solver. One day he met the doctor¶s daughter Stella he began to court her and eventually married her. Gregor struggled due to his lack of problem solving skills. While in Switzerland he loved to take afternoon walks in the local garden. Polya (Long. 8 . He was invited to teach in Zurich. He mentioned to his wife ?how could it be possible to meet them so many times when he randomly chose different paths through the garden?. finally graduating with a degree. Weber. 1996) maintained that the skill of problem was not an inborn quality but.Growing up he was very frustrated with the practice of having to regularly memorize information. He tired of that and switched to Biology and the again switched to Latin and Literature. His first job was to tutor Gregor the young son of a baron. he tired of that quickly and went back to school and took math and physics. Polya (Reimer. There he worked with a Dr. They spent 67 years together.

In this text he identifies four basic principles. Polya¶s First Principle: Understand the Problem This seems so obvious that it is often not even mentioned. for the remainder of his life. 1996). He taught many classes to elementary and secondary classroom teachers on how to motivate and teach skills to their students in the area of problem solving. or even in part. at Stanford University. yet students are often stymied in their efforts to solve problems simply because they don¶t understand it fully. In 1945 he published the book How to Solve It which quickly became his most prized publication. He taught briefly at Brown University and then. It sold over one million copies and has been translated into 17 languages. He quickly became well known for his research and teachings on problem solving. Polya taught teachers to ask students questions such as: y y y y Do you understand all the words used in stating the problem? What are you asked to find or show? Can you restate the problem in your own words? Can you think of a picture or a diagram that might help you understand the problem? y Is there enough information to enable you to find a solution? 9 .In 1940 he and his wife moved to the United States because of their concern for Nazism in Germany (Long.

Polya¶s Second Principle: Devise a plan Polya mentions (1957) that there are many reasonable ways to solve problems. Persistent with the plan that you have chosen. Polya¶s Fourth Principle: Look back Polya mentions (1957) that much can be gained by taking the time to reflect and look back at what you have done. In general (1957). If it continues not to work discard it and choose another. George Polya went on to publish a two-volume set. The skill at choosing an appropriate strategy is best learned by solving many problems. These texts form the basis for 10 . Don¶t be misled. You will find choosing a strategy increasingly easy. this is how mathematics is done. Doing this will enable you to predict what strategy to use to solve future problems. Mathematics and Plausible Reasoning (1954) and Mathematical Discovery (1962). given that you have the necessary skills. A partial list of strategies is included: y y y y y y y Guess and check Make and orderly list Eliminate possibilities Use symmetry Consider special cases Use direct reasoning Solve an equation y y y y y y y Look for a pattern Draw a picture Solve a simpler problem Use a model Work backward Use a formula Be ingenious Polya¶s third Principle: Carry out the plan This step is usually easier than devising the plan. what worked and what didn¶t. even by professionals. all you need is care and patience.

11 .the current thinking in mathematics education and are as timely and important today as when they were written. Make up another problem of the same type. Polya has become known as the father of problem solving. Polya¶s fourth Principle: looking back the problem This step is to check for the plan : Does answer reasonable? Do the steps correct? Is there another way to solve the problem? Extend the problem.

Strength: most relevant to human problem solving. Weakness: least relevant to human problem solving.Comparison between Routine and Non Routine Problem Routine Stresses the use of sets of known or prescribed procedures (algorithms) to solve problems. Weakness: least able to be assessed by paper-pencil tests. Static Active fixed goal(s) with fixed. Strength: easily assessed by paper-pencil tests. known goal and known element changing elements. Non routine Stresses the use of heuristics which do not guarantee a solution to a problem but provide a more highly probable method for solving problems. Changing or alternative goal(s) with changing elements. Changing or alternative goal(s) with fixed elements. 12 .

Non Routine Problem 1: Question 1: James won 10 trophies in drawing competition and Carman won 6 trophies. x=10 y= 6 z: the trophies that James have than Carman So. . How many trophies that James have than Carman? Strategy 1 : Diagram Strategy 2 : Multiplication Steps James=x Carman=y . z= x ± y = 10 ± 6 =4 13 .

12-5 = 7 Answer: Randy has 5 more stickers than Megan. How many more stickers does Randy have than Megan? The best strategy is Multiplication strategy. We need spend a lot of time to draw a diagram. On the first five days. Strategy: Multiplication steps Randy=x Megan=y So. Save time. they travel 220 miles. the distance on the sixth day is = 1500 ± 220 ± 300 ± 210 ± 275 ± 240 = 255 miles 14 . How many miles must they travel on the sixth day in order to finish their vacation on time? Strategy 1 (diagram)« 1st day 2nd day 3rd day 4th day 5th day 6th day x=5 y=12 220 miles 300 miles 210 miles 275 miles 240 miles ? miles 250 miles x 6 days = 1500 miles So. Randy has 12 stickers.Similar question : Megan has 5 stickers. The reasons are: 1. 300 miles. Question 2 : The Lachance family must drive an average of 250 miles per day to complete their vacation on time. 210 miles. 275 miles and 240 miles.

Furthermore. 82.Strategy 2( table ) « The distance on the sixth day =1500. draw a diagram is more save time if compare with draw a table. Similar question : Gini's test scores are 95. 76. and 88.1245 = 255 miles Why I chose diagram? This is because the diagram is more easy to understand for primary student. What score must she get on the fifth test in order to achieve an average of 84 on all five tests? Strategy 1(diagram) 95 82 76 88 ? 84 x 5 = 420 15 . Student can have more time to do the other question.

So. or 3 people and 1 sheep. the score of the fifth test = 420 ± 95 ± 82 ± 76 ± 88 = 79 Question 3 : The villagers were building a bridge. 6 legs + 8 legs = 14 legs I can use That's too many legs. Strategy 2 : Table People Legs Sheep Legs Total 1 2 2 8 10 ok 2 4 2 8 12 not ok 3 6 1 4 10 ok 4 8 1 4 12 not ok Answer: There are two possible answers: 1 person and 2 sheep. 16 . What combination of sheep and children could have been in that group? Strategy 1 : Guess and check. Try 3 people and 2 sheep. He counted 10 legs in one group. While working under the bridge Rodney could see only the legs of those walking by.

Solve using a table. How many games does his brother own? Why I choose table ? I choose table to solve the problem because it is more easy to understand and save time.Similar question : Prince Carl divided 15 stone games into two piles: games he owns and games his brother owns. 17 . I can more easy explain to the student if compare with using guess and check. That's a total of 15 games. By using the table. He owns 3 more games than his brother. Prince Carl His brother Total 11 8 19 not ok 10 7 17 not ok 9 6 15 ok Prince Carl owns 9 games. His brother owns 6 games.

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