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Critical thinking & problem solving

Every problem we are able to resolve increases increases self-confidence and self-worth. Thinking critically not only helps us handle future challenges more skillfully, it also broadens our life experience and helps us gain perspective" (Hereford, n.d., para.13).

Critical thinking

...critical thinking means making clear, reasoned judgments. During the process of critical thinking, ideas should be reasoned, well thought out, and judged (Wikipedia, 2016, para. 1).
If you don't understand something you need to employ critical thinking strategies to help you make sense of information.

5 tips to improve your critical thinking

Teaching strategies that help promote critical thinking may include: CATS, Cooperative learning strategies, Case study / discussion method, Using questions, Reciprocal peer questioning, Readers' questions, Conference style learning, Writing assignments, Dialogues: Written / spontaneous group, Ambiguity (University of Tennessee Chattanooga, 2012-2016).

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Problem solving consists of using generic or ad hoc methods, in an orderly manner, for finding solutions to problems (Wikipedia, 2016, para. 1).
If you are presented with a problem you need to employ problem-solving strategies to find a solution.

6 D's of problem solving

Problem-solving models:

A review of the following problem-solving models was included in an OECD report (2014) "because they have been used either for research or practical purposes" (p. 64) for problem-solving complex unfamiliar non-routine (CUN) tasks. Most of the models use either heuristics and/or metacognition to solve problems.

Polya's four-stage model [Book: How to Solve It(Melvin, n.d; OECD, 2014, p.65)
  1. Understand the problem (Analyse)
  2. Devise a plan (Design)
  3. Carry out the plan (Implement / Create)
  4. Look back (Reflect / Evaluate)
Schoenfeld's metacognitive instructional model
(Schoenfeld, 1992; OECD, 2014, p.66)

analyze, * explore, * plan, * implement, * verify

with the application of 3 self-directed questions:
  1. What exactly are you doing? (Can you describe it precisely?)
  2. Why are you doing it? (How does it fit into the solution?)
  3. Hows does it help you? (What will you do with the outcome when you obtain it?)
IMPROVE model (OECD, 2014, p.68)
  • Introducing the material
  • Metacognitive self-directed questioning
  • Practising by employing questioning
  • Reviewing the new materials
  • Obtaining mastery
  • Verifying acquisition of skills
  • Enrichment and remedial activities
Other problem-solving methods /models: