Ministry of Education, Guyana

Monday, 19 January 2015 09:14

Problem-Solving Skills

One of the things that employers often identify as being an important quality when hiring college graduates is their problem-solving skills. Students need to develop the ability to apply problem-solving skills when faced with issues or problems that are new to them. The development and use of problem-solving skills also improves learning.

Having a process for solving problems helps to keep efforts focused and eliminate becoming stalled. Problems solving usually involved the following steps

  • Identify the problem
  • Analyze the problem and gather information
  • Generate potential solutions
  • Select and test the solution
  • Analyze/Evaluate the results

Some of the tools used in problem-solving include:

  • Brainstorming. This technique is used to encourage participation from each member of the team. Brainstorming helps to break people out of the typical mode of approaching things to produce new and creative ideas. It creates a climate of freedom and openness, which encourages an increased quantity of ideas.
  • Root Cause Analysis (AKA as the "Five Why's."). The objective of Root Cause Analysis is to find the fundamental cause for a problem. One way is to ask "Why?" five times or more to really get at the root of the problem.
  • Cause and Effect Diagrams. This diagram is drawn to represent the relationship between an effect (the problem) and its potential causes. The diagram helps to sort-out and relate the interactions among the factors affecting a process.
  • Pareto Charts. A Pareto Chart shows a frequency distribution where each bar on the chart show the relative contribution of contributing problems to the larger problem. It help to identify where to focus energy to obtain the most positive impact.
  • Flowcharting. A Flowchart is a map that shows all the steps in a process. It helps in understanding the process and making sure all steps in the process are addressed.
  • Decision Matrix. A Decision Matrix is useful when faced with making a difficult decision. The options or alternatives are listed in the left-hand column and the selection criteria is listed across the top row. Each of the options are rated against the selection criteria to arrive at the best logical decision.

With the appropriate teacher action, students will be able to learn how to solve a variety of problems.

Source: https://www.nde-ed.org/TeachingResources/ClassroomTips/Problem-solving.htm

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