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mathematics problem solving
Issue Date: 
Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Educational Research Association of Singapore, Singapore, 2006
The ability to use heuristics to solve non-routine problems has been one of the important aims
of the Singapore mathematics curriculum for the past fifteen years. Mathematics teachers are
expected to teach their pupils how to use several heuristics listed in the curriculum documents
to solve problems. In order to achieve this aim, the teacher needs information about which
heuristics pupils are likely to be able to use to successfully solve various types of problems.
The project, “Developing the Repertoire of Heuristics for Mathematical Problem Solving”,
funded by CRPP, aims to provide the relevant information to teachers so that they can
effectively plan their lessons.
In April 2004, a sample of P5 pupils from three primary schools and S1 pupils from two
secondary schools completed a problem solving exercise consisting of nine different types of
questions. Four months later, they took a parallel posttest. The different heuristics they used
to solve these questions and their success in solving them were analysed. This paper
discusses the findings about two of these questions which involve the use of five different
heuristics: systematic listing, guess and check, equations, logical argument, and diagrams.
Further work will include a compilation of the heuristics used and the difficulties encountered
by the pupils in solving the problems. The teachers should find this information useful in
planning lessons that address the diversity of pupil responses to solving various types of
mathematics problems.
Project number: 
CRP 1/04 JH
Appears in Collections:CRPP - Conference Papers

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