# Web page for the Northwestern University Math Problem Solving Group.

There are several approaches for helping students with mathematical problem solving. Some of these approaches target the declarative and procedural knowledge problems, some focus on students' difficulty with conceptual understanding, and others concentrate on improving students' reasoning and critical thinking. These approaches vary depending on the nature and complexity of the problem. For basic problems, some students are taught to search for key words. However, this approach has often been criticized because it does not always prompt the correct mathematical operation and creates a high likelihood of errors. Moreover, it does not require a real understanding of the problem situation and relegates the activity to an imitation of drill-and-practice (Porter, 1989). Another well-researched approach is to teach students with math difficulty cognitive strategies for solving problems. For example, Montague, Applegate, and Marguard (1993) studied the effectiveness of a cognitive strategy instruction. This 7-step strategy ranged from initial steps of learning to read the problem and develop hypotheses to the final steps of checking one's work. This method has proven to be effective in helping students with math difficulty. Similar types of instructional strategies have been applied to technology-based interventions. The majority of these interventions are still in the prototype phase and thus are not yet available commercially.

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