He **heuristic method** It is a set of techniques to solve any problem. The word heuristic has Greek origin, and its meaning is «invent, find».

As a method, it relies on rules of thumb to find a solution. On the other hand, heuristics somehow guide discoveries through specific strategies or informal procedures, to generate solutions and develop hypotheses.

This term was used by Albert Einstein (1879-1955) in 1905: *On a heuristic point of view concerning the production and transformation of light*with which he won the 1921 Nobel Prize in Physics.

**The heuristic method**

The heuristic method is built on the use of various empirical processes, that is, strategies based on experience, practice and observation of facts, in order to reach an effective solution to a given problem.

It was the Hungarian mathematician George Pólya (1887-1985) who popularized the term with the publication of one of his books, called *How to solve it* (*how to solve it*).

During his youth, through the study and understanding of different mathematical tests, he began to consider how those tests had been solved.

This concern led him to argue them through different heuristic procedures, which he later taught his students. His strategies were:

1. Draw a diagram of the problem.

2. Reason in reverse of the problem to find its solution, devise a plan.

3. In case of being an abstract problem, try to study a concrete example carrying out the plan. In principle, address the problem in general terms.

4. Review.

On the first point, Pólya argued that it was so obvious that it was often not mentioned, yet students sometimes find their problem-solving efforts hampered simply because they do not fully or even partially understand them.

Then, when he referred to devising a plan in his second section, he mentioned that there were many reasonable ways to solve problems.

The skill in choosing an appropriate strategy is best learned by solving many problems. In this way, the choice of a strategy will be easier and easier.

The third step is generally easier than laying out the plan. In general, all that is needed is care and patience, since you already have the necessary skills. Persist with the plan that has been chosen. If it doesn’t work, discard it and choose another.

Regarding the fourth step, Pólya mentioned that much can be gained by taking the time to reflect and look at what has been done, what worked and what did not. Doing this will allow you to predict which strategy to use to solve future problems.

**The heuristic method in teaching**

The heuristic method is a discovery method to understand science independently of the teacher. The writings and teaching of HE Armstrong, Professor of Chemistry at the City and Guilds Institute (London), have been very influential in promoting science teaching in schools.

He was a great advocate of a special type of laboratory training (heuristic training). Here, the student proceeds to discovery independently, therefore no help or guidance is provided by the teacher in this method.

The teacher poses a problem for the students and then stands aside while they figure out the answer.

The method requires students to solve a series of experimental problems. Each student has to discover everything for himself and nothing is told to him. Students are led to discover facts with the help of experiments, apparatus and books. In this method, students behave like researchers.

In the staged administered heuristic method, the student is given a problem sheet with minimal instruction and is required to perform experiments related to the problem at hand.

You must follow the instructions and enter in your notebook an account of what you have done and the results achieved. He must also put down the conclusion of it. In this way, he is guided to the investigation from the observation.

**Advantages of the heuristic method**

– Develops the habit of approaches and research among students.

– Develop the habit of self-learning and self-direction. Develop scientific attitudes among students, making them truthful and honest so that they learn how to reach decisions through real experimentation.

– It is a psychologically sound learning system, since it is based on the premise “learn by doing”.

– Develops in students a habit of diligence.

– In this method most of the work is done at school, so the teacher does not have to worry about assigning homework.

– Provides the possibility of individual attention by the teacher and closer contacts.

– These contacts help to establish cordial relations between the teacher and the student.

**Disadvantages of the heuristic method **

– The method expects great efficiency and hard work from the teacher, experience and training.

– Not suitable for beginners. In the early stages, students need sufficient guidance which, if not given, can cause displeasure for students.

– In this method too much emphasis is placed on practical work which may lead a student to form a misconception about the nature of science as a whole. They grow up believing that science is something that must be done in the laboratory.

**References**

Heuristic method of teaching. Retrieved from studylecturenotes.com.

Heuristic Decision Making. Annual Review of Psychology.

Polya’s Four-Step Problem-Solving Process. Retrieved from study.com.