crasch (crasch) wrote,

Teaching Problem Solving

A technique is available, however, which provides prob1em-solving practice for an entire class. It is called Thinking Aloud Pairs Problem Solving (TAPPS).  This method evidently was first explored by Claparede (described in Woodworth, [10]), and was later used by Bloom and Broder [2] in their study of the problem-solving processes of college students.  Art Whimbey and Jack Lochhead [6, 7] have further expanded the technique in their attempts to improve the teaching of reading, mathematics, and physics.  In the method a class is divided into a number of teams, each team consisting of two students, with one student being the Problem Solver (PS) and the other being the Listener (L).  Each member of the team has a definite role to play, and both must adhere strictly to some rules.

In an article Lochhead [4] has elaborated some of these rules.  PS reads the problem aloud and then continues to talk aloud as much as possible about everything he/she is thinking while attempting to solve the problem.  L listens, and has the more difficult role.  L must try to keep PS talking; a short silence should be met with, “Tell me what you’re thinking.”  More, L must understand in detail every step made by PS.  Thus L should ask questions whenever PS says anything that is in the least mysterious. “Why do you say that?” “I don’t understand.  Would you explain that to me?” “Run that by again.” are some of the questions/comments L may use.  L must avoid solving the problem herself, and must not ask questions which are actually intended as hints to PS.  In fact, it isn’t necessary that L be able to solve the problem; her role is to help PS solve it.  When students are first learning the method L perhaps can point out that PS has made an error, but should not tell him where it is.  With more advanced students it is probably better to let PS find the error on his own.  PS and L should switch roles after every problem, but they should never change roles within a problem.

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