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Archive for March, 2011

by Reni Gorman

What is Problem Solving?

Whenever a living creature has a goal but doesn’t know how to accomplish it, they engage in problem solving. (Holyoak & Morrison, 2005) Problem solving is considered the most complex of all intellectual functions, as a higher-order cognitive process that requires activation and control of more routine or fundamental skills in order to solve the problem at hand. (Goldstein & Levin, 1987) There are a number of methods for problem solving, including:

  1. Difference reduction, in which we keep reducing the distance between the current state and the goal step by step;
  2. Means-end analysis, where we work backwards from end goal and set sub goals; and
  3. Analogy strategy, where we find similar problems we have solved with pervious strategies and try those same strategies on the new problem.

This is just a basic list; there are many other problem-solving methodolgies. So, how can we set up our learners to succeed?

Conditions under which Learners might Demonstrate Good Problem Solving

Gestalt psychologists have outlined a number of features that make problem solving more difficult, they are as follows: (Holyoak & Morrison, 2005) (more…)

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Simple Steps to Help you Think Like a Genius by Michael Crosson

Inspired by the bestselling book “How to Think like Leonardo da Vinci” by Michael J. Gelb

 “The only real failure in life is the failure to try.”  – Anonymous

 “Do or do not. There is no try.” – Yoda

I have an eight-year-old daughter. Like most eight-year-olds, she is at an innocent age of discovery. Often times I find myself telling her “Don’t do that because…” or “Not that way; you should do this.” All the time, trying to provide experienced instruction; trying to help her learn how to do things “The Right Way.”

 More often than not, she will ignore my direction and push forward with whatever she was doing. This usually leads to me getting a dustpan & brush to clean up the situation.

Recently, I applied a little bit of “Curiosità” (curiosity) to this situation. Why did she do what I told her not to do? Was she being disobedient? Did she not understand the outcome I explained? Does she have a special hearing problem that prevents her from hearing my voice specifically?

 I’ve come to the conclusion that she is employing one of Da Vinci’s life principles: Demonstration.

When I warned her not to balance the four cat food bowls (yes…we have four cats) one-on-top-of-the-other, brimming with food, because they may fall…

…she wanted to see them fall. She wanted to see what would happen.

And how did I know they would fall? Perhaps a similar situation in my youth? Did I learn something from it?

Thus is the power of Demonstration.

(more…)

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