Problem solving is a teaching strategy that employs the scientific method in searching for information. The five basic steps of the scientific method are:
- Sensing and defining the problem
- Formulating hypothesis
- Testing the likely hypothesis (by observing, conducting an experiment collecting and organizing data through normative surveys).
- Analysis, interpretation and evaluation of evidence
- Formulating conclusion
This approach is used most often in science and mathematics classes. The students are trained to be sensitive to any puzzling situation or to any difficult situation that needs to be solved. Having defined the problem clearly, a tentative solution is solicited. The closest scientific guess is then pursued by undertaking an appropriate investigative technique such as performing an experiment or gathering data through directed observations. Finally, they are led to formulate conclusions.
- This approach is most effective in developing skills in employing the science processes.
- The scientific method can likeWise be used effectively in other non-science subjects. It is a general procedure in finding solutions to daily occurrences that urgently need to be dressed.
- The student’s active involvement resulting in meaningful experiences serves as a strong motivation to follow the scientific procedure in future undertakings.
- Problem-solving develops higher-level thinking skills.
- A keen sense of responsibility, originality and resourcefulness are developed, which are much-needed ingredients for independent study.
- The students become appreciative and grateful for the achievement of scientists.
- Critical thinking, open-mindedness and wise judgment are among scientific attitudes and values inculcated through competence in the scientific method.
- The students learn to accept the opinions and evidence shared by others.
Guidelines for its Effective Use
- Provide sufficient training in defining and stating the problem in a clear and concise manner.
- Make sure that the problem to be solved fits the age, interests and skills of the students.
- Group the’ students and allow each one to share in the tasks to be performed. In this way the cooperative learning strategy would work well.
- Guide them at every step by asking leading questions in case of snags. Encourage suggestions of alternative processes or solutions, if necessary.
- Get ready with substitutions for materials which may not be available. This strategy needs a wide variety of materials and resources.
- The emphasis is on the procedure and the processes employed rather than on the products.
- The development of skills and attitudes takes priority over knowledge.
- Involve the students in determining the criteria with which they will be evaluated.