At its most basic, a heuristic is a shortcut or rule for reducing the cognitive load of information processing. The use of heuristics in mathematics can have a profound impact on a student’s ability to quickly and accurately solve a math fact or word problem. Students with LDs, whether math-specific or not, will especially benefit from the structure and sequence a heuristic provides (Robinson & Hutchinson, 2014).

Some examples of effective heuristics for the math class are:

Keyword strategy:

The “keyword” strategy involves associating common words with the operation they represent. For example, they might associate “gave away” to mean the question involves subtraction.

Underlining important information:

One common characteristic of word problems is that they tend to have extraneous information. Students should underline or highlight the important information, allowing for a simplification of the process.

Heuristics for problem-solving:

Click here to access LD@school’s problem-solving worksheet template including the self-questions for representing and solving word problems.