Problem Solving Skills in Teaching

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Teaching problem-solving skills to students can result not only in improved grades but good lifestyle decisions as well.

As a teacher, it is important to teach specific life skills, such as problem solving, that can be applied to a variety of academic disciplines. Even within the problem-solving skill-set, there are several techniques which can be taught, including identifying and re-reading the problem, brainstorming, beginning with the end in mind and starting even when the entire process cannot be defined and planned.

  1. Problem Solving Steps

    • Oftentimes with problem-solving, there is no clear-cut solution to the problem or scenario that is presented. As a result, having a preset grouping of problem solving steps can help your class to reach a solution. According to MindTools, the four basic steps for problems solving include defining the problem, generating alternatives, evaluating and selecting alternatives and implementing solutions. Using this as a pattern for approaching problems can help teach your students how to go about the process of problem solving regardless whether the solution ultimately works.

    Communication

    • In addition to the process of problem solving, there are also other skills and techniques to be used, such as effective and assertive communication, that need to be implemented in order for the process to be effective. Components of effective communication includes using "I" statements instead of speaking "we" statements, or not speaking for the whole group unless a consensus has been established. It should also be established that different people best communicate in different ways, including visually, expressively by using their hands and motions, verbally or by drawing pictures.

    Decision Making

    • Part of the problem-solving process for groups includes the process of selecting which solution to implement. You may decide that part of the teaching process is requiring a group consensus for arriving at the solution, which can be a learning experience in and of itself. Other forms of decision making may include selecting an arbitrary leader to make the decision and collect the information, using a democratic method of arriving at a solution by having the group vote.

    Ways to Teach Problem Solving

    • You can use integrated educational activities that combine two or more subjects, such as math, science or reading. Word problems in any of those disciplines often involve most, if not all, of the techniques used in the problem-solving process. Other ways of teaching problem solving include using teambuilding games and initiatives, such as those found at Wilderdom. Alternatively, you can combine experiential learning with classroom subjects through an environmental education curriculum, such as Project Wild.

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