Problem Solving Method in Teaching

What is Problem Solving?

Problem Solving is a process of overcoming difficulties that appear to interfere with the attainment of a goal. It is the procedure of making adjustments in spite of interference

Problem Solving Method In teaching

In everyday life, man faces varieties of problems. There are needs and motives that are to be satisfied. For this purpose, definite goals or aims are set. In an attempt for the realization of the goals, one experiences obstacles and interferences in an attempt to achieve them. This creates problems. Serious and deliberate efforts have to be made to overcome these impediments.

Problem Solving has been regarded as a form of complex learning. In problem situations, a response is not always readily available to overcome the obstacles and reach the goal. Recognising and adapting our perceptual, cognitive, verbal and motor responses are necessary to arrive at the correct response which will solve the problem. In other words, modification of our behaviour is necessary to arrive at the solution

Definition of Problem Solving

The meaning and Definition of problem-solving is given by different Scholars. These are-

Woodworth and Marquis(1948)

Problem-solving behaviour occurs in a novel or difficult situations in which a solution is not obtainable by the habitual methods of applying concepts and principles derived from past experience in very similar situations.

Skinner (1968)

Problem-solving is a process of overcoming difficulties that appear to interfere with the attainment of a goal. It is the procedure of making adjustments in spite of interference

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Nature of Problem Solving Behaviour

 An analysis of the above definition brings out the following observations about the meaning and nature of problem-solving behaviour are-

  • In the satisfaction of one’s needs and realisation of the set goals, problem-solving behaviour arises only when the goal is purposeful and essential for the individual, there is a series of interference in the realisation of this goal, and this interference or obstacle cannot be overcome by simple habitual acts or mechanical trial and error methods.
  • One has to utilise one’s thinking and reasoning powers and engage in serious mental work by systematically following some well-organised steps for the removal of the difficulties and obstacles.
  • The problem-solving behaviour involves quite deliberate, conscious and serious efforts on the part of the problem solver.
  • Problem-solving behaviour helps an individual in the removal of or adjustment with interference and ultimately helps to reach his goal and satisfy his motives.
  • Problem-solving behaviour helps an individual in the growth and development of his personality, making his life happier and wiser by appropriate adjustment. It also contributes significantly to the progress and development of society.

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Steps of Problem Solving Method in teaching

The different Steps involves the process of problem-solving according to the respective findings and viewpoints of Psychologist.

Problem Awareness

The first step in the problem-solving behaviour of individual concerns his awareness of the difficulty or problem that makes a solution. He must be confronted with some obstacles or inferences in the path of realisation of his needs or motives and consequently, he must be conscious of the difficulty of problems

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Problem Understanding

The difficulty or problem dealt with by the individual should be properly identified by careful analysis. He should be clear about the problem. The problem should be pinpointed in terms of basic goals and objectives. Thus all the difficulties and obstacles in the path of the solution must be properly named and all that would be going in the problem-solving efforts should then be properly analysed.

Collection of Relevant Information

In this step, the individual is required to collect all the relevant information about the problem from all the possible sources. He may consult an experienced person, read the available literature, recall his old experiences, think of possible solutions and put in all relevant effort for widening the scope of his knowledge concerning the problem at hand.

Formation of Hypothesis of Hunch for possible solution

In the light of the collected relevant information and the nature of his problem, one may then engage in some serious cognitive activities to think of the various possibilities for the solution of one’s problem. As a result, he may start with a few possible solutions to his problem

Selection of a proper Solution

In these important Steps, all the possible solutions through the previous steps are closely analysed and evaluated. Gates and others (1946) have suggested the following activities in the evaluation of the assumed hypothesis or solution.

  • One should determine the conclusion that completely satisfies the demands of the problems
  • One should find out whether the solution is consistent with other facts and principles which have been well established.
  • One should make a deliberate search for negative instances that might vast doubts on the conclusions
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The above suggestion can help the individual think of a proper individual solution to his problem out of the many possible solutions. But for all these, he has to use his own dissertation by utilising his higher cognitive abilities for the proper identification of the appropriate hypothesis or solution by rejecting all other hypotheses.

Verification of the conclude solution or Hypothesis

The solution arrived at or conclusion drawn must be further verified by utilising it in solving various other likewise problems. In case, the derived solution helps in solving these problems, then and only then if one is free to agree with his finding regarding the solution. The verified solution may then become a useful product of his problem-solving behaviour that can be utilised in solving further problems.

The above steps can be utilised in solving various problems thereby fostering creative thinking ability in an individual.