Polya questioning

Also known as: Polya problem-solving, 4-step problem solving

Polya questioning is a scaffold used to solve problems across all domains. It involves a four-step approach:

1. Understand the problem

2. Devise a plan

3. Carry out the plan

4. Look back.


Polya questioning:

  • can assist students to support their thinking, however, educators should be mindful of students not becoming dependent on the scaffold
  • helps students find a pathway into problem-solving when they aren't sure how to get started or proceed, however, they shouldn't view the scaffold as linear
  • was designed by Pólya, a mathematician, and has strong connections to Newman's Error Analysis.

Polya questioning

ICT templates

Learning activity templates

Office 365

Google G Suite

Make sure you are logged into your Microsoft account or Google account before accessing these templates. For more support refer to Getting started with technology

How to use with ICT

Use shared documents with prompting questions as part of whole-class or small-group work. Present word problem to get students to pose their own questions, then use Polya questioning to guide them through answering those questions. Students could work on the first two steps in class, then finish the problem at home.

Single computer

Project a Polya questioning document for the whole class to work through together. When introducing the technique, perhaps work through as a class. As students become more familiar, they could work individually or in small groups to answer the questions then discuss their answers.

External resources

Find out more resources
Title Link Description
Australian Mathematical Sciences Institute (AMSI) The problem with problem solving An article on mathematical problem solving.



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Personalised learning

Disability, Learning and Support

When planning to use technology in the classroom it is important to consider the diversity of your learners. Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is a framework to guide the design of learning environments that are accessible and effective for all. For UDL guidelines, information and additional materials, visit the CAST website.

Many students require technology as an adjustment to support their access to learning. Adjustments (NESA) are actions taken that enable a student with disability and additional learning needs to access syllabus outcomes and content on the same basis as their peers. Enrol in the Personalised learning with technology online course to help you make more informed decisions regarding technology.


For a range of simple, how-to videos visit the Assistive Technology page on the Disability, Learning and Support website. Resources are organised into four sections; Literacy and Learning, Vision, Hearing, Physical and Motor Skills.


High potential and gifted learning and support

When planning to use technology in the classroom it is important to consider the full range of abilities of all learners. High potential and gifted learners may require additional adjustments and deliberate talent development.  These strategies include differentiation, grouping, enrichment and advanced learning pathways so students can be engaged, grow and achieve their personal best.


Assessing and identifying high potential and gifted learners will help teachers decide which students may benefit from extension and additional challenge. Effective strategies and contributors to achievement for high potential and gifted learners helps teachers to identify and target areas for growth and improvement. School leaders can access the Evaluation and Planning Tool to support strategic improvement planning.


Recognising the diversity of high potential and gifted students represented in classrooms across 4 domains of potential can be explored further by accessing illustrations of practice.


For further support and advice about how to tailor learning for high potential and gifted students from all backgrounds, visit the High Potential and Gifted Education web section, High Potential and Gifted Education Policy or attend one of the professional learning courses on offer.