Problem Solving: What steps to consider?

1. UNDERSTAND THE PROBLEM: Do I really understand what is given and what is asked of me?

    1. Am I reading the problem carefully?
    2. What is the question? What is the unknown?
    3. Is this a problem to “find” … or to “prove”?
    4. What are the known data?
    5. What is the condition? Is it sufficient to determine the unknown? Insufficient, redundant, contradictory? Are there separate parts of the condition?
    6. What is relevant information? What should be discarded?
    7. Can I use a mental schema or draw a figure with suitable notation – marking the knowns and the unknown?

2. MAKE A PLAN: How do I best make a plan for the solution?

    1. What is the connection between the unknown and the known data?
    2. Have I ever seen this problem as a worked example before? A similar problem?
    3. Have I ever myself solved a problem like this ? A similar one?
    4. Do I recall the solution approaches?
    5. If not – is there a problem related to this one that I have seen solved before and whose solution approach I can recall and use?
    6. Do I need to restate the problem by introducing some added element?
    7. What solving strategies do I have? What should I try? Do I recall the steps?

3. CARRY OUT THE PLAN: How do I best carry out the plan and solve the problem?

    1. Am I using the problem-solving strategy that will answer the question?
    2. Have I applied the skills I have learned through daily practice?
    3. Do I show all my work so I can check it later?
    4. Have I checked each step of my work to avoid being careless?
    5. Can I see clearly that each step is correct? Can I convince myself or prove that each step is correct?

4. LOOK BACK: How do I best look back on my work?

    1. Do I examine my solution to see that it answers the question?
    2. Is my answer reasonable?
    3. Can I check the result?
    4. Can I see the solution approach for connecting the unknown to the given data at a glance?
    5. Can I use a mental model or a diagram to help recall this solution approach and solve similar problems in the future?
    6. How will I recognizhe similar problem statements and recall a solution approach?