The role of teachers and educators in today’s ever-changing world is a tricky one. Students have to be prepared for jobs that don’t currently exist, the learning experience is switching from a passive one to an active one, and different subjects are being merged together with a focus on creative collaboration.
All of this provides ample opportunity for teachers to help students develop their problem-solving skills and put them into practice in the safe space of the classroom.
Problem-solving skills are a vital component of the skill set that students will need to rely on in real-world scenarios that affect both their personal and professional lives. With so many resources available, it can be difficult to choose effective examples when it comes to lesson planning, which is why we’ve compiled a few of our favorites below. (And this is just a sneak peek - we have even more tips in our ebook ‘21 tips for teaching problem-solving skills in STEAM lessons,’ available for download right here!)
Method 1: Encourage students to talk…and listen
By creating a problem-solving exercise that can only be solved by open communication, students will learn the importance of both talking and listening, honing important skills along the way.
An active method for doing this is to give some students the role of ‘investigators’ and ask them to compile a list of questions that will help them solve the problems. You can then present the ‘readers’ of the class with clues and answers that they can respond with. The rest of the class will need to listen to the exchanges in order to solve the problem.
Method 2: The importance of planning
A key element of both critical thinking and problem-solving is the ability to plan. By giving your students a task that requires careful planning, you’ll be encouraging them to work on those two key areas.
Method 3: Go for group work
Collaboration is a critical component of problem-solving. Working confidently as part of a group will be necessary in many different real-world scenarios in the future. Designing certain tasks around working as a group will ensure that these skills are honed, and any conflict within groups can be identified and resolved.
Method 4: Focus on the process!
Focusing on the process, rather than the results, helps students understand that one single point in an entire project isn’t going to ruin their grade. In fact, dissecting the process itself can often strengthen the outcome and provide a valuable learning experience.
Educators can also highlight that processes often lead to alternative results that might work out better than the original solution the student may have had in mind. This can be tied in to the Edisonian approach of trial and error, where the process of problem-solving leads to unexpected results.
Method 5: Tactile learning
Hands-on lessons make for more memorable, interactive experiences that activate the prefrontal cortex and stay with students for longer. Creating problem-solving lesson plans that involve hands-on experiences are incredibly easy. It could be as simple as ‘design an informative poster about the effects of climate change’ through to building a basic robot with the Arduino Student Kit!
Download the free ebook for more tips on teaching problem-solving
If you like the methods we’ve touched on above, download our free ebook, which explores 21 different ways that you can incorporate problem-solving into STEAM learning at middle and high school.