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Teaching Problem Solving - Open Knowledge — LiveJournal

Mar. 28th, 2011

08:33 pm - Teaching Problem Solving

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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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Comments:

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From:randallsquared
Date:March 29th, 2011 10:42 am (UTC)

Seriously?

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This seems ideally suited to preventing PS from ever actually solving a problem: make them slow their thinking to the speed of speech, and attempt to distract and sidetrack them whenever it looks like they're getting close...
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From:timtad
Date:March 29th, 2011 12:05 pm (UTC)
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I just talk to myself, apparently I listen too.
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From:spc476
Date:March 29th, 2011 08:49 pm (UTC)
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I like the idea I was taught in 5th grade. Within a problem solving group, the first thing is to read aloud the problem. Then for five or ten minutes, everybody writes down a possible solution/idea. The trick here is to keep yourself from self-censoring your ideas. Write them down no matter how stupid it may seem. But don't dwell on any particular solution either—the idea is to write down as many solutions as possible.

When time is up, one person is selected to read their solutions. Everyone one else crosses out any of their solutions that match. Once done, the next person in line starts reading out any remaining solutions and people cross out any matches they have. This continues until everybody has read their list. And again, no discussion on the solutions is permitted; this is just getting a list of unique solutions and it doesn't matter if you end up with no unique solutions.

Then, and only then, does discussion commence on the solution set.

I remember one problem we had (keep a kid occupied for a couple of days on a trip to the moon) we pretty much came up with an iPad (looking back at the results our team came up with). This back in 1979.

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