By: Megan Prats


Assumptions are dangerous and thus should be avoided in the problem-solving process. Assumptions inherently incorporate doubt and doubt increases the probability of error. Thus, if the student can remove the assumption that she’s applying to her problem-solving, she should.

When an assumption appears, the logical step to follow is to research the assumption to either negate, modify, or corroborate it. For instance, when I was doing my Spanish homework, my teacher asked for me to translate a sentence with the word “casualty” in it. I assumed that casualty is Spanish was “casualidad” because it just sounded right but then I said to myself, “let me verify with the dictionary just in case.” So, after looking up the word in the dictionary, I saw that casualty is something very different in Spanish – víctima. Thus, because I negated my assumption with research, I ended up with a better answer than with my assumption.

In order for the research step to be effective, the sources need to be sound. Thus, make sure that the student is using reputable and objective sources in her research. In order to ensure that bias and error are removed, it’d be best that the student consult with several sources before selecting a fact to evaluate her assumption with. However, if time is of issue, then one reputable and objective source should be sufficient to use.

So the moral of the story is that when you see an assumption in the student’s problem-solving, the series of events that should materialize are doubt in the student, research, and then either negation, corroboration, or modification of the student’s assumption. And when the student removes assumptions, her answers tend to be better thus instilling this skill in the student will do her wonders.

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