Wednesday, 11 March 2015



Heuristics and its application

What Is Heuristics?+

Heuristics Maths refers to the different strategies that we can adopt to solve unfamiliar or non-routine Maths problems.

How Do We Use Heuristics In Problem Solving?+

There are different types of heuristics and they can be grouped into four categories, based on how they are being used:

Steps to solving word problems

With word problems as an introduction to problem sums for Primary 1 pupils, does your child know the different steps to approaching a word problem?
There are 4 basic steps that pupils can take to solving word problems:

Step 1: Understanding The Problem

It is important for children to understand the word problem that they receive, before they begin solving it.
A good way to help children grasp a question's requirement is to break the question up into smaller parts. Alternatively, parents can also provide guiding questions for the children to help them pick out the important information inside the question.

Step 2: Deciding On An Approach

There are many approaches (different heuristics) to solving word problems.
Children will need to decide on the approach they wish to use based on the question's requirement.

Step 3: Solving The Problem

After deciding on the approach, children will proceed on to solve the word problem with the selected approach. Over here, children will need to have a good knowledge of the approach selected in order to solve the problem.

Step 4: Checking The Solution

The last step for children to take when solving word problems will be to check their worked solution to ensure that they have solved the problem correctly.
For this step, children will need to make reference to the question provided and do the necessary comparison.

Worked example

Here we have a worked example using the 4 steps introduced above:


At a café, there are 3-legged stools and 4-legged stools for customers to sit on.
Vincent counts 15 stools with a total of 50 legs altogether.
How many 3-legged stools are there in the café?


Step 1: Understanding the problem (through asking guiding questions).
Step 2: Deciding on an approach.
To use the “Guess and Check” strategy.
Step 3: Solving the problem with the "Guess and Check" strategy.
The total number of stools must always be the given number, 15.
Step 4: Check the solution.
Number of legs for ten 3-legged stools:
3 x 10 = 30
Number of legs for 4-legged stools:
50 – 30 = 20
Number of 4-legged stools:
20 4 = 20

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