# Problem Solving Strategies

Solving a problem means...

Finding a way out of a difficult situation,

Finding a path around an obstacle,

Reaching a goal that was not easily achievable.

Independent learning requires structured working methods and thinking.

**Orientation phase:**What is it about? Search for the given data and for the data to be found; if required, structure and illustrate.**Creative processing phase:**Compiling the data that may be missing. Take the similar assignments into account. Identify the central theme and prepare strategies. Develop a solution idea. Using heuristic strategies and aids (see below) can simplify and accelerate the time required to search for a solution.**Actual solution phase:**Implementing the solution idea, finding the results.**Evaluation phase:**Re-assessing the solution process and the solution. What are the new findings derived from the task? Was the strategy known? Other solutions?**Extension and cross-linking phase:**Cross-linking with existing knowledge and known tasks. Generalisations, variations of an assignment.

## Heuristics - art of problem solving

One can learn and teach how to solve a problem.

Click here for more information on heuristic aids, strategies and principles >>

## Literature

Polya, G. *How to solve it.* (1957) Garden City, NY: Doubleday and Co., Inc.

On Wikipedia, one can find detailed information and an extensive list of references.

Material from Tom Reardon's Home Page:

- Teaching Problem Solving Strategies:

A 16-page document that has an explanation of George Polya's 4-step method. It also highlights 12 different problem solving strategies and supplies an in-class example of each with a complete solution. For each example there is an accompanying exercise that is similar to the example. - A collection of 83 problems for students:

This 14-page document has the 12 examples and 12 similar exercises and another 71 exercises for a total of 83 problems. - 3. Solutions to the 83 problems :

This 17-page document has 'hand' solutions to the 83 problems.