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      In the school environment, students approach concepts, ideas, and problems differently, according to their backgrounds, experiences, studies, etc.  These approaches students use are often referred to as heuristics.  Therefore, heuristics often refer to problem solving strategies that people use.  In our case, we want to concentrate on strategies that students use in mathematics class.  The following heuristics are examples of such strategies.  Students may use one or more of these problem-solving techniques when faced with a problem.

Diagrams - Diagrams help some students organize and piece together information that they have received.  For example, students could use tally marks to make sense of the tremendous amount of data.  In probability, one often sees students using tree diagrams.

Graphs - Graphs help some students visualize problems.  They help students organize and piece together information they have received.

Patterns - Students often use patterns to predict the correct answer.  Some construct tables to recognize different patterns.

Special Case - To make problems easier to tackle, students may look at a special case in which they are familiar to gain insight about the general case.

Trial and Error/Guess and Check - Some students use a trial and error method to test certain possibilities. 

Use of Previous Methods - Some students use techniques from previous problems in hopes that the new problem is solved in the same manner.

Use of Variables and Equations - Using variables and equations may help students make generalizations about specific situations.

Working Backwards - Some students find that once they know the answer, working backwards will help them figure out the process.