MTH 208 Week 2 participation Solving Word Problems

General Model

The following general model for word problem solving is suggested:

Read and heed the problem. What is it telling you? What is it asking? Define terms that you do not understand.

Identify the unknowns. It is helpful to name these unknowns with a symbol. In algebra we typically use a letter known as a variable, but any symbol will do.

Identify what is known. Write down all the information that the problem tells you. Even if you just repeat the givens in the problem, list them.

Start to identify the relationships between what is known and what is unknown. This is the critical and creative part of solving a problem. Create a visual aid like a diagram, sketch, table, and equations if you can that allow you to see the relationships.

Use the relationships identified in the previous step to generate a problem-solving strategy and ultimately an equation or set of equations that can be solved.

Apply the strategy to solve the problem.

If the problem does not seem to work, REPEAT steps 1-5. The secret to problem solving is to apply a test of reasonableness, and then repeat the process as necessary. While no process guarantees a successful outcome, this technique will usually result in a better solution