Like life, school is a journey filled with twists and turns. Problems arise, but students who learn to confront them early will be happier and more resilient as they approach college and the real world. Here is a framework to help you build your students’ problem-solving skills:
Start with identification. In assignments or projects, teach students to identify the task in front of them, then define the problem(s) they’re trying to solve.
Articulate possible solutions. An important part of the problem-solving process is brainstorming solutions—as many options as possible.
Weigh the options. Encourage your students to consider the ideas they’ve come up with: what are the possible problems with each? Which alternatives are most and least feasible?
Create an action plan. Before diving in, students should decide what they’ll do first to work toward solving the problem. This should involve thinking through the strategy, steps and desired outcomes
The execution phase is where your students should attempt to try out a solution by carrying out the steps that they defined in their action plan. To build on their learning, they should evaluate their progress as they go.
Lastly, it’s time for evaluation. Encourage your students to reflect on their efforts, problem-solving process, what worked and what did not. They might decide to go back to the drawing board if the problem didn’t get solved as planned.
One of the best ways to prepare your students for college and the real world is to teach them how to identify and solve problems on their own. Regular practice doing so will help them be more confident and independent no matter what academic challenges they face.