Tactic | Action | Outcome |
CLARIFYING | Re-read the problem as if you were editing it: analyze givens, make unstated assumptions explicit, clarify goals. | A restatement of problem--its givens, assumptions, and goals--in your own words. |
VISUALIZING | Draw a figure and label givens, close your eyes to form a mental picture and then imagine what the experiment would look like if you set up the equipment. | A figure, diagram, model which should help you see relationships between givens and unknowns. |
ANALOGY | Recall or use the text or notes to find a similar problem, method, result, useful theorem technique. | A model to follow in solving your problem. |
SUBGOAL | Break problem into simpler problems; do only part of the problem. | Partial solutions leading towards goal. |
ALGEBRAIC | Introduce variables for unknown; write equations, relations. | Symbolic representation of the problem. |
BRAIN-STORMING | Think of every formula or definition related to the concept or terms. | A list of formulas, conversion factors, or definitions to be used. |
QUESTIONING | Assume you are going to ask the instructor for help: what would you ask? Identify what you need to know to solve the problem. | A list of questions whose answers lead to a solution. |
UNIT ANALYSIS | Compare units in answer you want to compute with units in given information; look for conversion factors involving these units. | A series of relationships involving units which can be multiplied or divided to get desired goal. |
IDENTIFYING | Identify concept behind problem, type of problem, section of book from which taken. | Once you know the concept behind the problem you can use brainstorming, analogy, or other tactics. |
TEAM | Work with a classmate or friend. | Discussion of ideas which can lead to broader understanding. |
TRIAL-ERROR | Hit-miss attempts; try special cases. | Corrective feedback, better understanding of problem; may lead to induction. |
INDUCTION | Try cases, searching for a pattern. | Generalizations and insights about problems. |
WORK BACKWARDS | Begin with answer if given, or approximate an answer, try to figure out how it was obtained. | The process for solving the problem. |
LOOK BACK | Check and verify your work; is solution reasonable? | Verification of solution. |
INCUBATE | If making no progress after 30 minutes, stop working on problem, sleep on it, or leave it for a few hours. | An opportunity for insights and ideas to develop. |
GO FOR HELP | Ask for hints or explanations. | Obtaining necessary insights and strategies. |
Sunday, March 1, 2009
Problem Solving Tactics
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