Teaching Problem Solving: Core to All STEM Learning

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Transcript Teaching Problem Solving: Core to All STEM Learning

Teaching Problem Solving: Core to All STEM Learning

Linda Rumans and Sylvia Unwin With Marcia Williams, Emerita

Overview

Recent Job Description

Problem Solving: Shows insight into the root causes of problems. Generates a range of solutions and courses of action including the benefits, costs, and risks associated with each.

• Job Title? Physician Actuary Engineer Business Owner Programmer Governor Network Admin Astronomer Accountant Detective Architect DBA Legislator Marketing Director Professor

Gary Trudeau…

Recent Job Description

Problem Solving: Shows insight into the root causes of problems. Generates a range of solutions and courses of action including the benefits, costs, and risks associated with each.

• Job Title? Physician Actuary Engineer Business Owner Programmer Governor Network Admin Astronomer Accountant Detective Architect DBA Legislator Marketing Director Professor

Where can a student find problem solving?

Cartoon Caption

OK – Now listen up. Nobody gets in here without answering the following question. A train leaves Philadelphia at 1 pm. It’s travelling at 65 mph. Another train leaves Denver at 4:00…Say, do you need some paper?

Questions

• • • • • What did this kind of problem teaches you?

When did you need to know how to solve a similar problem?

How applicable to your life was this kind of problem?

How transferable were the problem solving strategies to other problems?

More importantly – how relevant is it to our students?

Where is Problem Solving Taught?

• We assume students will become better problem solvers by experience

Problem Solving - Overview • • Difference between Content oriented and Process-oriented course We tend to focus on the “solution” and not how we got there

• • • Problem Solving is a

Process

A problem solving course can have content, but the focus is on how did you get to the solution? Some problems have

one correct answer

and other problems have a

better option

. After students get a solution(s), ask: – What strategies did you use?

– How long did it take? – What worked well? – What didn’t work?

• Assessment is more difficult in a

process-oriented class

Problem Solving Strategies – Pattern recognition – Choice of entry point and attention area – Challenge assumptions (the “Why” technique) – Generation of alternatives • Minimum number of alternatives • Minimum time spent developing alternatives

Hands On Group Problem How can you use a pair of pliers to cook an egg?

Problem Solving Strategies

– Suspended judgment – Recognize dominant ideas and crucial factors – Fractionation – Random stimulation – Explain the problem to someone else – Go away from the problem

Problem Solving Strategies – Identify obstacles – Build a “straw man” (draft proposal that is not expected to be the final proposal) – Identify the “correct” problem – Recognize problem statements and solution statements – Innovation  inventions Results in accidental

Problem Solving Strategies – Binary Reduction – Change one thing – Write Everything Down (slow down and think) – Work backwards (reversal) – Recreate the problem – Elimination

Examples of Accidental Inventions 1.

2.

3.

4.

5.

Microwave oven (Percy LeBaron Spencer – engineer working on radar technology late 1940s.) Pacemaker (Wilson Greatbatch pulled the wrong resistor out of his box) Penicillin (Sir Alexander Fleming, 1928, forgot to keep one of his culture plates in a sterile environment) Vulcanized Rubber (Multiple failures to develop a durable form a rubber; 1830’s) Teflon 6.

7.

Super Glue (1942 – looking for a plastic to be used as a clear gunsight) Safety Glass 8.

Potato Chips (1853) 9.

Ice Cream Cones (1904 World’s Fair) 10. Champagne (17 th Century, a monk and Dom Pierre Pérignon)

Innovation – More Examples

Principle Solution Segmentation (Divide an object into independent parts)

Individually wrapped cheese slices

Local quality (Provide different

"Adult" editions of Harry Potter

packaging for different uses)

books

Nested Doll

Store within store (coffee shops in bookstores and supermarkets)

Another dimension (Tilt or re orient object)

Squeezable ketchup bottles that sit on their lids http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newCT_92.htm

Examples Problem Statement or Solution Statement?

• • • • “I need a rug.” “We need a new student garage.” “My printer needs more memory.” “I need a new camera.” Statements with the word “need” often indicate a pre-determined solution. Exercise: Practice writing problem statements. Identify the facts you need before you can proceed with identifying possible causes.

Sample Assignments – Adaptable to any discipline 1. Document at least 30 ways to print a Word Document – Write everything down – Generation of Alternatives – Minimum number – Change one thing 2. Create a problem (and solution) for a problem solving round robin 3. Create a TechNote (Fractionation, testing, documentation) 4. Create a one-page list of strategies

Classroom Exercises Examples • • • • • Redesign a way to tell time Cartoons – write captions How can you use a bucket with a hole?

Brick exercise: – Lists of traditional ways to use bricks – Lists of non-traditional ways to use bricks – Discussion Moneylender, Father and Daughter problem

Money Lender

Classroom Exercises

• • • Options are endless Highly interactive and active class sessions Objective: Change the way students approach problem solving

Student Feedback

• • “I used lots of the strategies to plan my wedding.” “I had a digital camera and I couldn’t get it to work. In the past, I would have put the camera back in the box and forgotten about it. After your class, I didn’t give up. I eventually solved the problem.”

Specific Recommendation – Problem Solving Course • • • Objectives – Vocabulary and strategies of problem solving – Emphasize the process, not the solution – Applicable to multiple disciplines Content – Generic Strategies with generic problems – Content-specific problems Early in the course of study

The Good News!

• • • • Problem Solving/Creativity are strategies that can be taught There are many resources (books, web) Students with problem solving skills will be more effective in their classes…and the workplace Assessment continues to be a challenge

http:// mindtools.com/pages/main/newMN_TMC.htm

References

Resources

• • • • • • Edward deBono,

Lateral Thinking http://www.debonoconsulting.com/edward_de_bono.asp

Roger von Oech,

Creative Whack Pack

James L. Adams,

Conceptual Blockbusting

Web searches: – –

Problem Solving Creativity

Lateral Thinking Marcia Williams, Bellevue College