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Monday, June 08, 2009

Tips for Teaching Problem Solving Skills

One of the best methods of teaching learners how to solve a problem is through the use of case studies and branching stories.

A goal of a problem solving e-learning module is to present a problem to the learner that closely approximates an actual situation the learner will encounter on the job.

Include the following in your case study to teach problem solving:

 Provide practice

 Needs to be realistic

 Job related

 Relevant to the learner

 Encourages learner to think

Once the problem is presented, have the online learners analyze the available information, develop a course of action, and explore their decisions as they relate to the case according to pre-developed questions which branch from location to location.

During this process, the learners need to be encouraged to use metacognition*. The process of solving the case allows the learners to apply the rules, procedures, and concepts learned earlier to a new problem in a safe environment. The effective e-learning module asks questions to guide the learner through the process but doesn’t actually “give answers.” The learners need to develop solutions on their own. Online this can be a link to a “coach” or “mentor.”

Solving problems in a safe environment provides the learner with a high level of comfort when he or she actually encounters a similar situation on the job. The investment in time to develop and administer cases studies is paid back in terms of increased learning and retention of information.


Metacognition is simply the educational term for “thinking about thinking.” Learners need to be taught to think about how they think.

Research suggests that emphasis on metacognition during training significantly improves the subsequent ability of the learners to solve problems. Typically, an expert problem solver monitors his or her performance while solving a problem. The expert will analyze how they are looking at the parts of the problem, access the logic they are using to reach a conclusion, predict outcomes, compare and contrast with former problem solving sessions, weight their conclusions and then offer a solution to the problem.


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Amin Marts said...

How are you defining; Job Related vs Relevant to the Leaner?

I'm of the opinion that a learning objective that's 'Job Related' makes it relevant to the learner.

If that's the case, could Job Relevance and Relevance to the Leaner be distilled to "Job Performance Relevance"?