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The University of Texas at Austin

Effective Thinking Through Mathematics

The University of Texas at Austin via edX


A wondrously romantic belief is that brilliant thinkers magically produce brilliant ideas: Einstein jostles his hair and relativity falls out. We can enjoy these fanciful visions of leaps of genius, but we should not be fooled into believing that they’re reality.

Brilliant innovators are brilliant because they practice habits of thinking that inevitably carry them step by step to works of genius. No magic and no leaps are involved.

Professor Starbird will discuss how habits of effective thinking and creativity can be taught and learned through puzzles and mathematics. Anyone who practices these habits of mind will inevitably create new insights, new ideas, and new solutions.


The whole course presents strategies of effective thinking that can make you more creative and more insightful. These overarching lessons are conveyed through fascinating mathematical themes.

Week 1 – An Introduction and Puzzles
This week provides an introduction to the course and the five elements of effective thinking. Then, students solve several puzzles using the five elements.

Weeks 2-3 – Number Contemplation
Students begin to explore the concept of number from basic to its infinite variety, and see how those insights flow from strategies of effective thinking.

Weeks 3-4 – Geometric Insights
Our visual world leads to beautiful insights, concrete and abstract, also illustrating methods of thinking that are applicable to your own life.

Taught by

Michael Starbird


4.6 rating, based on 14 Class Central reviews

Start your review of Effective Thinking Through Mathematics

  • Life is Study

    Life is Study completed this course.

    Effective thinking though mathematics is a course about increasing your ability to tackle new problems and understanding things you already know better. The course focuses on 4 main elements of effective thinking: understanding simple things deeply, making...
  • Daniil Basov

    Daniil Basov completed this course.

    That was a first course that I've comleted. I strongly reccomend this course to whom who is interested in enforcing ability to crack manifestations of the World into the breaks that you can use to assemble each other manifestation (prognosing strenght)....
  • Sylvia Amar completed this course, spending 4 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be medium.

    It's a very good course! We are learning to think mathematically through puzzle solving. It's a pity the course is not activated anymore.
  • Profile image for Chuck Martin
    Chuck Martin

    Chuck Martin completed this course, spending 2 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be medium.

    This is a great course for learning what "mathematical thinking/logic" is. This is a subject that I've been reading a lot about lately. I finished the course is about 8-10 hours total over two days but I already knew a lot of the questions asked or the method to solve them. Dr, Starbird is a great instructor and really makes the class fun.
  • Thomas Simonini

    Thomas Simonini completed this course, spending 4 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be hard.

    This course is really good, it help us to have some methodology when you tackle on a difficult problem by following the 5 strategies of effective thinking.
    The professor is really good and excited to teach people.
    Unfortunately the course was really short to me, BTW the book Heart of Maths is a really good book to continue to use and learn the 5 strategies of effective thinking
  • Ozgur Yarar

    Ozgur Yarar is taking this course right now, spending 4 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be easy.

    Currently taking it (end of second chapter). It is a very refreshing to follow such a motivated professor.
    I am following it to identify thinking patterns that could pass on to my kids. And as Michael Starbird, I strongly believe we can develop effective thinking through puzzles and mathematics.
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous completed this course.

    Best course ever. Professor Starbird is really superb instructor.
  • Horace

    Horace completed this course.

  • Sanjay Singh completed this course.

  • Tonolmo completed this course, spending 4 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be easy.

  • Teresa Tse

    Teresa Tse completed this course.

  • Profile image for Michael Ye
    Michael Ye

    Michael Ye completed this course.

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