Assignment 2: Mathematical Problem Solving
The goal of any mathematics course is to introduce you to a variety of methods used to solve real-world problems. In this way, you are able to practice solving problems and, along the way, improve your critical thinking skills.
It may seem that solving a mathematical problem involves nothing more than knowing the right formula and the following the correct steps. However, that is only part of the process. Solving problems is more of an art than a science which means that human intuition and imagination play an extremely important role in the process. Through these human abilities, we link experience to knowledge and skills resulting in a synergy that leads to a solution.
In 1945, mathematician George Polya (1887-1985) published a book titled How To Solve It in which he demonstrated his approach to solving problems. Here are his principles of problem solving:
Polya’s First Principle: Understand the Problem
To solve a problem, you have to understand the problem.
Polya’s Second Principle: Devise A Plan
There are many different ways to solve a problem. The way you choose is based upon your own creativity, level of knowledge, and skills. Basically, solving the problem involves finding the connections that exist between the data you’ve been provided and the unknown you need to find.
Here is the assignment:
Think of a problem that involved several steps that you had to follow to reach a solution. If you can’t think of a problem, look at any of the problems in Chapter 1 in the book and pick one that you can explore here.
Prepare a 200-300 word multiple paragraph response defining the problem and the steps need to reach a solution.
Then in your responses to at least two classmates, address the following items: