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What Effect does the Teaching of Polya’s Problem Solving Steps have on the Ability of Year 5 Girls when Solving Non-Routine Problems in Mathematics?

Written by: Claire Coolin
10 min read
Claire Coolin, Oxford High School GDST, Oxford, United Kingdom Introduction Reflecting on my time in the classroom, I recognise that girls in my classes were achieving well and performing, in many cases, beyond age-related expectations. They understood concepts taught and, when given routine problems which followed the theme or topic being covered that week, were able to find solutions. However, when it came to applying previously learned knowledge in unfamiliar situations, my students often struggled. The difficulty with problem solving came from making the connection with what was learned and applying this to something non-routine and unexpected. This action research project aimed to investigate the following: ‘What effect does the teaching of Polya’s problem-solving steps have on the ability of Year 5 girls (ages 9-10) when solving non-routine problems in mathematics?’ Literature review As educators, one of our responsibilities is to prepare our students for adult life.

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