Predicting answers

Before you start solving a problem, predict what the answer will be. Not necessarily the exact answer; an estimate will do. One strategy that I like (but don’t use as often as I should) is to get students to do this on a regular basis. Often it’s nothing more than a check on whether the eventual answer is reasonable: if an angle looks like 90°, it may not be, but if you get 14° or 205° you ought to go back over your work. More interestingly, a recent article in Mind/Shift reports on a study that provides another reason for making predictions:

Predictions pique our interest… The act of venturing predictions prompted [students] to understand the material more deeply as they engaged in reasoning and sense-making about math instead of mere memorization.

The study was about middle-school algebra, but the lesson applies to all of us. I’m going to renew my efforts to remember to ask my students to make predictions first.

Categories: Teaching & Learning