Practice Guide iconPractice Guide
Released: May 2012
(Revised October 2018)

PDF (5.8 MB)
This practice guide provides five recommendations for improving students’ mathematical problem solving in grades 4 through 8. This guide is geared toward teachers, math coaches, other educators, and curriculum developers who want to improve the mathematical problem solving of students.

Prepare problems and use them in whole-class instruction.

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Assist students in monitoring and reflecting on the problem-solving process.

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Teach students how to use visual representations.

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Expose students to multiple problem-solving strategies.

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Help students recognize and articulate mathematical concepts and notation.

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Education Levels:
  • Elementary
  • Middle Grades
  • Administrators
  • Parent/Family
  • Policymakers
  • Researchers
  • School Specialist
  • Student
  • Teacher

This practice guide was prepared for the WWC by Mathematica under contract ED-07-CO-0062.

The following research staff contributed to the guide: Joshua Furgeson, and Robin Patfield.

These videos were prepared by WestEd under the Doing What Works Contract (ED-PEP-11-C-0068).
All videos are based on recommendations from the WWC practice guides and are designed to complement the guides.

  • John Woodward (Chair)
    University of Puget Sound

    Play an interview of Panel Chair, John Woodward: The Components of Problem Solving (5:47 minutes)
  • Sybilla Beckmann
    University of Georgia
  • Mark Driscoll
    Education Development Center
  • Megan Franke
    University of California, Los Angeles
  • Patricia Herzig
    Independent Math Consultant
  • Asha Jitendra
    University of Minnesota
  • Kenneth R. Koedinger
    Carnegie Mellon University
  • Philip Ogbuehi
    Los Angeles Unified School District

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