Written by Steven Walker Monday, 04 March 2019
Edited and compiled by Robert J Smith @RJS2212
The recent qualification reforms have brought with them an increased emphasis on problem solving. In this blog we take a look at incorporating puzzles into revision programmes to help build students’ problem solving skills.
What is Problem Solving?
In GCSE and A Level, problem solving questions will often require students to interpret given information and decide on the techniques needed to obtain an answer.
For example, at first glance this circle puzzle might appear to be beyond GCSE (as equations of circles are limited to circles centred around the origin in GCSE), but could be solved by bringing together coordinates, constructions and Pythagoras’ Theorem.
How to use Problem Solving questions
Problem solving needs to be incorporated throughout the academic year, but in the run up to the exam season puzzles can make good revision tasks. These help students make links across the curriculum, help identify technique weaknesses and prompt discussions.
At first, many will see this additional grid as having 3 unknowns, but on closer investigation a pair of equations can be seen with only 2 unknowns, which can then be solved before going on to complete the puzzle.
Maths is often perceived as a quiet subject. Puzzles encourage discussion and the process of sharing ideas can help consolidate knowledge.
Each of our Check In tests (GCSE (9-1), FSMQ, GCE Maths, GCE Further Maths) include an extension problem and our practice exam papers can be found on Interchange.
You can see OCR (Oxford Cambridge and RSA Examinations) in the networking / Exhibitor slots during #MathsConf18 at the City Academy Bristol on Saturday March 9th 2019.
Don't forget in March we also have our 'FREE' Maths Teacher Network events in association with Oxford University Press and AQA.
We look forward to seeing you at our next La Salle Education Event if you don't already, follow us on Twitter @LaSalleEd
About the Author
Steven joined OCR during the recent qualification reform period, working on the redevelopment of Entry level, GCSE (9-1), FSMQ and the suite of A Level Mathematics qualifications. He now focuses mainly on supporting the level 3 qualifications. Steven has taught secondary mathematics in UK and overseas.