Definition of Generalization: Transfer of learning to a new task, setting, or situation.
Example: Sharla, a student with learning disabilities, uses the Solve It! routine to solve problems successfully in the general education math classroom. She has difficulty using it on her own in other settings. She may need to be cued to use Solve It! in new settings, with different types of problems, and in different situations such as figuring how much money she will make per week in her afterschool job.
Vignette: After students have learned the Solve It! routine, Ms. Johnson presents a practical problem to help students generalize the use of the strategy to real life problems.
Ms. Johnson: “Who gets an allowance? (Students raise their hands.) “Write down how much you get and how often you get it.” (Ms. Johnson spot checks students.) “Who gets paid for working after school, for example, baby sitting or mowing lawns?” (Students raise their hands.) “Write down how much you make and how often you make it.” (Ms. Johnson spot checks students.) “Who does not get an allowance or get paid for working?” (Ms. Johnson then pairs students who do not do either with a student who does.) “Now, think about something you want to buy and estimate its cost. Write down the cost. Now calculate how long it will take you to save the money needed to buy what you want to buy. If you have a partner, work as a team.” (Ms. Johnson assists students as needed.) When students finish, they present their calculations to the class.
To reinforce generalization, Ms. Johnson designs a homework assignment that generalizes problem solving to the home setting. The assignment: Identify something that your parent cooks that you would like for dinner. Ask your parent to tell you how much the food will cost if everyone in the family gets to eat it. Then, using this guide (scrub the bath tub $2.00; vacuum a room @ $.75 each; wash the kitchen window $1.00; sweep the kitchen floor $.50; take out the trash $.50; wash and dry dinner dishes $1.25) decide which chores you would need to complete to pay for the food. You can choose to do the same chore on different days.
Learn more about this and other strategies in Implementing Solve It! A Professional Development Guide for Facilitators (http://www.exinn.net/solve-it/implementing-solve-it-2/).