Effective problem solving requires individuals to select and apply appropriate strategies in an efficient and logical manner (Warger, 2002); however, students who have learning disabilities often struggle to learn and apply these strategies (Montague, Enders, & Dietz, 2011). Decision charts can be used to guide individuals through the steps in a problem or make problem solving strategies more explicit. They include a set of prompts laid out in a chart format that individuals can follow to support their decision-making during problem solving. This may look like a flow-chart or set of steps for students to follow.
There does not appear to be any research examining the impact of providing a pre-made decision chart to individuals, though some authors have developed instructional strategies using decision charts. For example, Montague, Warger, and Morgan (2000) developed a problem solving approach called, Solve It!, which is a cognitive approach designed to aid middle school students who have learning disabilities. Bray (1988) also taught students problem solving strategies using flow charts. These approaches, however, are better described as educational technologies as they are used for entire classes of students to teach a particular skill. Therefore, research has shown that using decision charts or flow charts as part of instruction can be effective, but has yet to validate them as an assistive technology that can be provided to students who struggle with remembering the steps to problem solving.
Research Rating: Due to the lack of experimental information cited in this description, no claims about the effectiveness of decision charts can be made. It is possible that decision charts are effective, but this has not been confirmed experimentally.
Can be differentiated to the individual’s needs or learning level
May be provided to individuals who struggle with remembering the steps to problem solving
Inexpensive and easy to make
The strategies that have been validated in the research literature required whole-class intensive instruction (e.g., Montague et al., 2011), therefore individuals who require decision charts as an AT may require training
Teaching metacognitive strategies will be important when considering using a decision chart
Special Consideration: Workflow
Exact prices change frequently, which is why only approximate ranges are listed.
$ - Under $5
$$ - Between $6 and $50
$$$ - Between $51 and $250
$$$$ - Over $250
Bray, L. M. (1988). Increasing students' abilities to solve word problems through concrete and problem writing experiences. Nova Southeastern University, Fort Lauderdale FL.
Montague, M., Enders, C., & Dietz, S. (2011). Effects of cognitive strategy instruction on math problem solving of middle school students with learning disabilities. Learning Disability Quarterly, 34, 262-272.
Montague, M., Warger, C., & Morgan, H. (2000). Solve It!: Strategy instruction to improve mathematical problem solving. Learning Disabilities Research and Practice, 15, 110-116.
Warger, C. (2002). Teaching students strategies for mathematical problem solving. ERIC Clearinghouse on Disabilities and Gifted Education. Arlington VA.
Written by Bronwyn Lamond, Last Revision April 2018