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Require More than One Strategy for Solving


Mathematics Science 21st Century Skills Social-Emotional Learning/Growth Mindset All Ages Strategy


Flexible Thinking Self-regulation Abstract Reasoning

Require More than One Strategy for Solving

Let me tell you the secret that has led to my goal. My strength lies solely in my tenacity.
— Louis Pasteur

Identifying multiple strategies BEFORE solving a problem is likely to result in better outcomes. Model and practice the following steps with your students.

How To Apply It!

  1. In situations where you are not pressed for time and the problem is unfamiliar, jot down two or three approaches you can use to solve the problem.
  2. Pick one of the options and solve the problem.
  3. If you get stuck, try one of your alternative approaches.
  4. After you solve the problem, ask yourself, "Does this make sense?" If it does, go back and check your work with one of the other approaches to check. If you arrive at the same answer, you can be confident you have the correct answer. Otherwise you will need to go back and check your work again.
  5. Expect this approach to take you more time at first. However, you will quickly become more efficient with identifying multiple approaches. Over the long term, being able to efficiently identify and try multiple ways will result in deeper understanding and better accuracy.

Why It Works (the Science Of Learning)!

Research shows that students who consider a few problem solving approaches before they begin solving are more likely to adapt when they run into difficulty rather than persist with the wrong approach. This strategy can be particularly helpful for students with weaker flexible thinking who benefit from consistently reminding themselves to consider multiple approaches to problem solving tasks.