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Math Illuminated | G. Polya Four-Step Problem Solving Plan

G. Polya Four-Step Problem Solving Plan

Understanding the Problem

MI students learn to answer the following questions: Can you re-state the problem in your own words? What are the unknowns? What information do you have? What additional information, if any, do you need?

Designing a Plan

MI students learn how to design a plan based on specific problem solving strategies: Looking for a Pattern, Solving a Simpler Problem, Modeling, Eliminating Possibilities, Making a Table, Writing an Equation, Examining Related Problems, Guess and Check, Working Backwards, as well as other strategies.

Carrying out a Plan

MI students learn how to check each step of the solution and ensure the accuracy of computation as they implement a problem solving strategy.  We concentrate on learning how to keep an accurate record of each step and how to avoid making careless mistakes and computational errors.

Looking Back

MI students learn to check the results of their solution, determine whether the final answer is reasonable, and whether it answers the question of the problem. They also learn to generalize to other related problems. The necessity of looking back becomes most obvious when students start preparing for SAT exams.