Students Speak: It’s Not Just About Getting the Right Answer

SMARTS taught me that, if you take your time and look at a problem from different angles, you’ll probably get something valuable out of it. It’s not just about getting the right answer. —Cesar, high school student

It’s often easy to become fixated on the end product while ignoring the process that students use to arrive at the end. The fact is that the steps our students take to complete their schoolwork are the real lesson. When our students become adults, their knowledge of the periodic table or irregular French verbs may or may not come in handy in their daily lives; however, their ability to break down challenging tasks, remember key information, and solve problems flexibly and creatively will be critical to their long-term success. Our job as educators is to help students develop strategies that will allow them to do exactly that, and one of the ways we do this is to stress to students that HOW they complete their work is just as important as the end product.

Cesar is demonstrating an important benefit of promoting cognitive flexibility, or flexible thinking. For ways to promote flexible approaches to problem solving with your students, take a look at our free lesson 1.2 (What is cognitive flexibility?) as well as the overview for unit 3 of the SMARTS Executive Function Curriculum.


—Michael Greschler, EdM, SMARTS Director