Many of us are unsure about how analytical skills are being taught through Mathematics and in fact many of us are even unsure of what we mean by analytical skills to begin with. Analytical skills refer to the ability to collect and analyse information, problem-solve, and make decisions. This is an essential skill needed for everyone to function at their best in the workforce and this is the prime reason why teachers in school and tuition teachers (especially math tutors) try their best to help students develop this skill.
Why is this skill a challenging one to develop?
Being analytical does not come naturally. If a tutor guides a student through the process, it will be much easier; otherwise for a student to try being “analytical” by themselves will be challenging as they would not know where to start. Math tuition teachers especially have the time and opportunity to strike up conversations and discussions by voicing some thought-provoking questions which encourages students to think critically.
What is the correlation between Math and “Analytical skills”?
In the context of Mathematics, this exact analytical thinking is what will enable students to problem-solve in their examinations. This is because, it is important for students to,
- carefully read the problem given
- sieve out and highlight the important information
- break down the facts
- think of the possible topics/concepts being tested
- Correlate the facts and figures given
- Conceptual linking
- Deriving the solution step-by-step
Solving math questions are certainly not easy; there is a huge process to it all. So, how can math tutors (be it tuition centre teachers or one-to-one private tuition teachers) help their students develop analytical skills?
ANALYSING THE STUDENT
No two leaves are the same, so a tutor needs to identify a student’s strengths and weaknesses when it comes to academics. Some students might be fast learners with a weak memory and some students might be slow learners with a strong memory so teaching techniques will vary.
Only a good math tutor will be able to observe and understand their student’s learning capacity and according to that, tutors can determine how the students can be tutored.
Some students might need repeated revisiting to the topics, some might need spaced repetition of information reinforcement, others might need lots of practice questions in order to practice knowledge application and many simply need a tutor to guide them through question analysis!
One of the most important skill that is a pre-requisite to being a good analytical thinker is to be able to link the individual concepts being learnt. Questions often do not test on individual concepts; they link several concepts together. The reason why questions are designed in such a way is because real-world problems require dynamic thinking which uses different concepts and techniques to be used in order to derive a solution.
How will tutors teach their students this?
Math tuition teachers ensure that students pick up on this skill by practicing questions. Practicing is the best way to master anything. However, students would struggle to master this all by themselves. Thus, math tuition teachers would take part in the question analysis with their students and guide them step-by-step; identifying the concepts tested and explaining the way their being linked.
After several practice questions, students would get the idea of how this can be done and thereafter they will be trained by doing more and more practice questions.
STEPPING UP THE DIFFICULTY LEVEL
If students resort to doing easy questions all the time, they would not be able think on a deeper level and hence may struggle to do well for much more complex questions. This is the reason why math tutors will encourage their students to practice doing questions of increasing difficulty.
In much more difficult questions, the questions generally would have lots of details which requires students to isolate these details and identify which topics they are being tested on. Tutors encourage their students to challenge themselves and this automatically gives students the confidence to continue working hard.
It is undeniable that many students feel unequipped and “just not smart enough” to develop an analytical mind to solve questions with ease during their Mathematics examination. This is the reason why math tuition is seen as an essential option that students need to opt well in order to excel in this subject.
Tutors are the biggest pillars of strength as they have complete faith in their students, they know that one has to be patient (results don’t show overnight!) and tutors would also teach their students different study techniques to derive solutions for even the most difficult of questions.
Practice can be done in various ways, that includes,
- Mock exam papers given by the school
- Assessment books
- Other school past year papers
- Topic-based practice questions
- Practice questions in textbooks
Practicing requires discipline and this is the only way one can achieve success. Practicing primes your brain to think of different ways a question could potentially link different concepts. The more a student practices, the easier it gets to solve questions of increasing difficulty. Cognitive skills do not develop in a day and students need to commit themselves to a strict study schedule.
Moreover, students need to clarify their doubts uninhibitedly and they can even request their tutor to revisit some challenging topics to strengthen their foundation!
Analytical skills require time to develop and hence students need to be tenacious and persistent with their handwork and effort. At times of scoring a bad grade or not being able perform well in examinations, students need to realise that good grades take time to be achieved and hence it is crucial for them to practice continuously, as well as work with their tuition teachers to improve their skills.