Specific Aids for Problem-Solving or Memorization

What is a specific aid?

A student enhances his/her problem solving or memorization using a specific problem-solving aid by connecting a concrete object or other cue to the task. Counters and other concrete objects used in mathematics are examples of specific aids.

How can specific aids help your students?

Specific aids can help students perform tasks or memorize information by connecting information to something concrete. The presence of the concrete object allows the learner to process information more efficiently. As in the case of counters, you will not want the student to use the concrete object indefinitely. Rather, the counters serve to support the learner until he/she learns to do the mathematics on a more abstract level.

How can you implement specific aids in order to effectively meet the diverse learning needs of students?

Teachers can implement the use of specific aids for the entire classroom, small groups, or individuals. You may begin by teaching the use of specific aids in areas where concrete instruction is needed. Math and science are content areas where concrete instruction is prevalent and necessary.

What are the different types of specific aids?

Specific aids for problem solving or memorization are produced commercially. Counters, maps, and globes are examples of commercial products. Teachers may also construct their own specific aids that are tailored to specific content.

How do you decide on what type of specific aid to use?

Consider your students' needs for learning. Allow the students to have input as they connect meaning with the specific aid for problem-solving or memorization.

How do you construct your own strategy for using a specific problem-solving aid?

  • Analyze the information to be attended to and determine how your students will best attend. Are there some objects or materials that will be more effective than others?
  • Present information to be attended to and learned.
  • Model the use of the specific aid. Guide students as they use the specific aids.
  • Reinforce (a) the students' learning of the material as well as (b) their ability to attend based on the specific aids.
  • If students select or create their own specific aid, monitor and reinforce this process and their learning.