Why Problem Solving?
Problem solving has been cited by the National Research Council and PISA as an important skill for the workplace.
Students need to prepare for careers that require the ability to work effectively in groups and to apply their problem-solving skills in these social situations (Brannick and Prince, 1997; Griffin et al., 2011; National Research Council, 2011; Rosen and Rimor, 2012).
PISA explains that “today’s workplaces demand people who can solve problems in concert with others” and “employers are willing to pay higher wages for people with well-honed problem-solving and social skills”. (Collaborative Problem Solving, PISA Results, Volume V, 2015, p.32).
Can we develop Problem Solving Skills?
Problem solving skills make us feel more comfortable when facing a new challenge. Developing our problem-solving skills means improving our strategic thinking, it helps us to find appropriate strategies and enables us to think of different ways to approach a problem. Such skills can be learned and improved through constantly challenging ourselves. The immediate feeling of success when having solved a problem is extremely rewarding. We become more confident and are encouraged to practise and tackle increasingly complex challenges.
However, if students are rewarded for quickly attaining the correct answer, and their effort and resilience is not acknowledged then this develops a fixed mindset and can hamper students’ progress later in life. A fixed mindset describes someone who believes that their level of intelligence cannot be changed. They are born with a certain limit on what they can achieve and nothing they do will change this. Somebody with a growth mindset believes that their intelligence can grow depending on the amount of effort they put in.