3 Ways To Encourage Problem Solving In The Classroom

Problem Solving is a skill that is not only useful in the classroom setting, but also very important for them to handle conflicts, disagreements or other challenges faced in their daily lives. Problem solving should not be seen as a task but rather as a method of thinking, and hence is important to encourage students to participate in problem solving activities in the classroom. Three ways to encourage problem solving in the classroom includes Brainstorm Bonanza, 3B4ME, and ABC Feedback!

3 Ways To Encourage Problem Solving In The  Classroom

Problem Solving is a critical skill not only for students to achieve academic success in school setting but also for them to handle conflicts, disagreements or challenges in their daily lives.

Generally, there are 5 steps to problem solving:

  1. Identify the problem
  2. Think of the possible solutions
  3. Evaluate the solutions
  4. Find the best one and try it out
  5. Assess the effectiveness of the practised solution

Knowing these basic procedures, teachers can actually create opportunities where students have to think for themselves, actualise the above steps, and 'practise' problem solving in class.

Here are some ideas for teachers.

1. Brainstorm Bonanza

For most of the time, teachers are the one who 'move around' the most in the classroom and the one who get to write on the whiteboard or chalkboard. Yet, students would love to leave their seats and express their opinions on the board too!

Having your students list their ideas or answers on the chalkboard related to questions that you have raised could be a brilliant way to polish their understanding towards content that have been covered as they can as well explore their classmates' responses. This is a good chance to make your students practise 1. Identifying the problem that you've given them, and 2. Thinking of the possible solutions themselves (refer to the 5 steps for problem solving).

To motivate your students to explore all the possibilities and be creative with their answers, teachers may consider holding a mini-contest by having your students compete for both quantity and quality - by having the most ideas but at the same time reasonable and effective ones.

2. Ask 3B4ME

Ask 3B4ME - Ask three before me. This is a wonderful way to encourage students to figure out the answers on their own by using simple paths before they resort to approaching teacher for help. Hence, this helps bring 1. Finding possible answers/ solutions, 2. Evaluating the answers/ solutions and 3. Finding the best answer/ solutions (refer to the 5 steps for problem solving), into practise. Answers are always more reliable and accurate when being fact-checked from multiple sources. That's why students are recommended to check the answer thrice even when using the same way. Here're some options for students:

  • Ask 3 friends
  • Visit 3 different websites
  • Explore from 3 different sources (Books, magazines, news, websites...)

3. Use ABC Feedback

The ABC feedback model suggested by Alez Quigley offers a three-step process for students to provide feedback on their peers' answer. This is going to provide students with a framework for building up ideas in a discussion and practise 3. Evaluating each others' answers, 4. Comparing and find the better answer/ solution and 5. Assessing the validity of the answers (refer to the 5 steps for problem solving). The following is how the ABC Feedback works:

  • A = Agree with - Make your students agree with their peer's answer with reasonable support
  • B = Build upon - Ask your students to try build upon their peer's answer by adding their own ideas or elaborating more
  • C = Challenge - Have your students attempt disagreeing with their peer's answer and offering an alternative point of view

Hope you like these tips and that they will turn your students into great problem solvers!