# Explicit Instruction: Math Strategies

### Overview

Direct instruction in math strategies may support some adult learners once conceptual understanding is in place. Discussing strategies for solving math problems provides learners with the tools they need to think about problems from different angles, and to flexibly apply these tools during problem solving. To best select strategies, learners need to see beyond the surface structure of the problem to the underlying patterns, in order to match them with the appropriate strategies and procedures to arrive at a solution. This requires a deeper conceptual understanding, which is best developed when learners engage in problem solving and productive failure before direct instruction. Further, using a variety of math strategies to tackle relevant real-world problems makes the concepts meaningful by helping learners make connections to their own lives.

### Use It In Your Learning Environment

Adults benefit from learning math in a real-world context, making it relevant to their daily lives. Real-world math can be messy, however, and learners may get frustrated or experience math anxiety when there is not an obvious rule for how to solve the problem. As such, introducing adults to a repertoire of strategies to use when they encounter messy real-world problems helps promote a productive disposition while allowing them to flexibly practice using their strategies. Allowing learners the space to brainstorm strategies, discuss their thinking, and propose alternatives with others promotes learning both inside and outside the classroom.

When considering a direct instruction approach for math strategies, it is important to note that it can lead to rote learning which does not support Metacognition, Reasoning, or Problem Solving - essential to building a solid foundation in math. Conceptual understanding should be established prior to direct instruction in math strategies. Though exposure to a variety of strategies is possible when taught directly, it is important that learners put the strategies to use right away to promote Reasoning.

## Additional Resources

Additional examples, research, and professional development. These resources are possible representations of this strategy, not endorsements.

## Factors Supported by this Strategy

## More Instructional Approaches Strategies

**Authentic Audiences & Purposes**

When adults can connect and communicate with authentic audiences about their interests and values, learning becomes more personally meaningful and relevant.

**Clear Structure & Presentation**

When designing instruction for adults, expectations and goals should be clearly outlined to help learners focus on the material and make plans for success.

**Competency-based Learning & Assessment**

Competency-based learning is self-paced, focused on mastery, and centered around demonstrating learning outcomes and skills rather than where or how they were attained.