The Power of Visualization: How Imaging Can Help Solve Math Problems

Visualization is a technique we use every day to solve simple and complex problems, which require spatial imagination or the ability to make predictions based on the presented and remembered facts. But visualization is also a powerful method, which can be applied to mathematics to increase students’ ability to solve math problems. Learn more about the possible applications of visualization and how the technique can be used during math classes or for homeschooling.

What Can Visualization Be Used For?

Visualization is not limited to drawing visual representations of the objects, but it can be used at every step of solving math problems. First of all, visualization can be applied to understanding the problem. Many students, who fail at solving word problems, also lack the ability to imagine the situation described in the word problem. Because they cannot visualize the problem correctly, they are not able to choose the right means to solve the problems. Secondly, visualization is the core technique used for modeling. This is particularly true for geometry – complex word problems often require the ability to imagine 3D or two-dimensional figures and relations between them, but this can be very difficult for students, who did not master visual modeling and are not able to use their mental images of figures to find the correct answer to the problem. Finally, visualization is a powerful tool applied to planning ahead and making predictions about the future. This skill is also important for solving math problems, especially the ones, which require multiple operations on the equations performed in a correct order. Students, who are able to use visualization can predict what they will achieve if they apply certain rules of math. They do not need to test every possibility in practice, instead they can choose the correct procedure by evaluating the available options in their minds and predicting the possible outcomes.


How to Use Visualization Techniques for Teaching Math?

Imaging techniques are not as commonly applied to solving math problems as they should be, considering how effective and helpful visualization can be. However, there are math learning methods dedicated to filling this gap and providing students with many opportunities to develop visualization techniques. One of this method is known as Singapore Math and its main advantage is the focus on real objects and graphic representations as the tools used to illustrate math problems. By working with these tools, students learn and test everything in practice, but they also develop their imaging skills by progressing from concrete objects to simplified graphic representations and mental images. One of the biggest advantages of Singapore Math is the ability to use the same techniques to solve even the most complex math problems. In the result, instead of vague, abstract understanding of advanced mathematics, Singapore Math students are able to envision even the most complex equations and figures. If you would like to include more visualization techniques in your teaching, Singapore Math is an invaluable source of good ideas, tips and exercises any teacher and parent can use.

About the Author

Marta Gromadzka is a writer and editor with a wide variety of experience, including writing for websites internationally and editing books on many different subjects and in a variety of formats.

Photo credit: Rob StanleyMarie Andersson