A crucial step in teaching high school students how to plan to solve a problem in science, technology, engineering, and math is to teach them how to plan to solve a problem. Problem-solving provides a rich context for teaching and learning STEM+C concepts and practices because it draws on skills, approaches, and ways of thinking that are transferable across disciplines. Teaching students to solve problems on their own can be difficult, especially with virtual teaching during the pandemic. Solving problems is not intuitive for some students, and they must learn how to approach issues from a broad perspective. Teachers, as experts, frequently fail to recognize that there are implicit skills and ways of thinking that our students may not be aware of.
Please share some techniques for explicitly modeling and teaching problem-solving abilities.
- Include a discussion for each problem’s planning: Teachers are born problem solvers. As novice learners, students frequently do not know how to plan a problem. They look at a problem and think it’s strange, so they don’t know where to start. They have given up. According to research, for novice learners, planning how to solve the problem is a crucial step. Provide students with a structure or protocol. It can include things like identifying and writing data in units for an issue, formulating equations, identifying and writing what they’re trying to solve, drawing a relevant vector diagram, and brainstorming possible steps.
- Model the hidden thinking that goes into solving a problem: When we’re working on a problem, we talk about everything we’re doing out loud. We talk excessively, justifying each step. When solving a dimensional-analysis problem, for example, we might write something like, “OK, we’re going to look for any numbers that we can cancel.” If we see a number in the numerator and another number in the denominator with a common factor, we know we can cancel or reduce.”
- Explicitly teach problem-solving skills: Students can write their problem-solving strategy on a notecard after they solve problems. Collect student feedback and create a class protocol to post on your learning management system or in your physical classroom. Build on the foundation with a two-column approach. Students display their work in the left column and explain and justify their actions in the right column. Students will reflect on their actions after adding a justification. This will strengthen the link between conceptual ideas and problem-solving techniques.
- During problem-solving, encourage students to talk: Even if students ask, we try our hardest to avoid solving problems for them. It includes whole-class lessons as well as working with students individually or in small groups. We use the Socratic Method to ask the students a lot of questions. The questions can be as straightforward as “What do we do next?” or “What are our options?” “Why do we do that?” by which we can provide a deeper understanding. These give meaning and reasoning to the actions of each step in the problem-solving process, ensuring that students understand the concepts and skills.
These are just a few ideas for getting your students to think about problem-solving in a more general way rather than just focusing on specific problems and memorizing steps. ICE Robotics has been a market leader in Educational Robotics for over a decade, thanks to its innovative approach. The best part is our dedicated team will assist you from start to finish.