Problem Solving means a better use of the ability to classify problems, situations and to solve them. The problem-solving process is linked to the metacognitive capacity of executive control of the task, such as self-monitoring and self-regulation, and tends to develop them. In the SUPPORT project, to explore the concept of problem solving based on the knowledge and experience of partners and stakeholders we gathered a set of specified tools and methodologies.
The more basic criteria for the choice of tools, that you can find below, were the following:
Simple: we tried to choose tools/methodologies that are easy to use / implement through the educational process (simple but not simplistic)
Effective: in terms of effective we mean either “traditional” methods that have been proved helpful, methods that have been tried and have had tangible results (slightly debatable) or just methodologies that can be considered effective due to their specific characteristics and the needs they take into consideration (e.g. methods that are addressed to illiterate people, people from minorities, people with mental/neurological/physical disabilities, migrants/refugees, people from underprivileged backgrounds, and so on)
Diverse: similarly to last point made in effectiveness, the diverse approach of a problem-solving method can allow for the greater inclusion through its implementation and thus be able to respond to more diverse needs of the learners and educators
Doesn’t require specialized infrastructure: for us it was important to suggest methods that can be used without restrictions by the educators and learners, allowing for the greater inclusion in the educational process and can be more fair for educators working in underprivileged areas with little to no access to sufficient budget.
The Problem Solving Canvas: was chosen as a tool that allows you to optimize the solution process of a problem or to reach a goal in the shortest time possible and with minimum effort and therefore of be faster and know how to respond to problems in a timely manner
Detectives: Detectives (investigators) is a method game based on critical thinking and creativity. The main motivating factor is intrigue. Detectives must logically justify why a solution is approved or rejected. The skills of analysis, critical thinking and synthesis are strengthened, while the method encourages creative, unconventional thinking that helps solve other problems in future.
Hot Lava: The game requires understanding ‘How’ to traverse an imaginary lava flow. Players have three rocks that they can use to traverse the lava flow. But first, they need to follow some rules and regulations. This game improves problem solving skills due to the participants learning how to work together to find a solution to the problem.
Iceberg: the tool was chosen as it encourages learners to go deeper into different aspects of a problem, possibly also questioning the problem statement itself. Among different skills addressed, alongside problem solving, the activity develops also critical thinking, persuasion, and expressing one’s opinion.
How do you sail on your life ship?: the activity was chosen as specifically addresses life problems faced by learners, and encourages them to look at the wider picture. By imagining their life as a ship, participants re-contextualize their life situations, put their problems into perspective and go into depth of certain issues. Alongside problem-solving, the activity develops self-reflection and personal motivation.
Meeting Clock: An appropriate method to enhance communication and collaboration between participants of training group or to share experiences (how problem was solved). The method works great if the members of the training group little known each other; communicating and collaborating going hard in the group. It is also very appropriate to share experience in solving certain problems or to find out the views of group members on specific issues.
Mind Maps: This method makes use of one’s visual capacities to help understand and face a problem at hand. We suggested it because it takes into consideration the needs of people that are visual learners. Due to its nature and the need for filtering the information before writing it down, it helps also a lot in developing critical thinking as well as the ability to make links between information. It is relevant to the project’s content because it can be used to solve problems and takes into consideration different learning styles.
Problem tree: the tool was chosen as it addresses several stages of problem-solving: problem setting, brainstorming and decision-making. It especially focuses on exploring causes and consequences of a problem through visualization. As participants work on their trees in small groups, and later present their results to other groups, the activity develops a set of other skills: interpersonal (through interaction) and public speaking.
Search – Solve – Snocciolano: Participants identify a situation they want to represent. The group of actors and the group of observers are formed. The actors decide how to represent the theme, divide the parts, decide the dialogues, etc. Observers are given the following guidance on what to observe: What problem has been represented? Who did I observe? Did it help solve the problem? What solutions have been found? What decision has
been made? Have everyone’s ideas been considered? The performance is followed by a moment of sharing during which the group of observers exposes what is marked on the cards and the group of actors tells how they lived the experience.
Six Thinking Hats: the tool was selected as it is particularly useful for brainstorming and decision-making: it allows participants to look at a problem from different perspectives by trying on several “thinking hats”. This way, the problem is explored from a number of different angles. It develops analytical thinking and creativity.
Strange glasses: this is a teaching method allows you to assess the situation from a different perspective, to look at some things as „through different eyes“. All participants must empathize with the roles assigned to them and solve the problem by “putting strange glasses”. We find as a consortium that empathy is a key skill in resolving conflict and challenges and this is the reason why this tool was chosen
Tandem Facilitation Toolbox: This method is a very nice way to help face communication problems in a multilingual setting and it makes use of common interests within a group to help develop one’s language skills. We chose it because we believe it can be really useful in a multilingual classroom of adults to help bridge the linguistic gaps, awake the interest for the different languages and their similarities as well as help further develop one’s linguistic and communication competences. We believe that it is relevant to the project’s content because it corresponds to the needs the education of adults with very basic literacy skills, from ethnic minorities and
Test it! Probably you can: This method is effective in coaching practice. It helps the learner to overcome prejudices and fears. We do not try many things in our life or work, not only for rational reasons, but also often because of our inner beliefs or assumptions made at every step. Attitudes can equally obstruct us: “I won’t,” “It’s not for me,” “It’s risky.” Such and similar words reflect our inner dialogue as we face future change. If the teacher / mentor hears restrictive clauses in the employee’s language, he / she must first help the learner to notice and evaluate such clauses
Those we tell stories, rule the world: the activity was selected as it deconstructs well-known stories, legends and myths by identifying different aspects, and especially the problems faced by the characters. It develops analytical thinking and listening skills, but also imagination and compassion, as the participants explore how they would react in a similar position
Turn on the bulb: Starting from a real story, which proposes a problem, the participants, individually, write more ideas on the solution. Each idea is collected on a sheet in order to collect all the ideas and group them according to similar solutions. The aim is to obtain a combination of proposals that highlights the possibility of multiple solutions which is a crucial point of reference for impactful problem solving