When it comes to designing and teaching problem solving skill based training programs, Hung (2009) quoted on how current training strategies are not working, “Traditional pedagogies, such as lecturing and demonstrating solutions to problems, very often result in students being capable of solving “textbook problems,” but unable to apply the knowledge to solve real life problems” (Brown, Collins, & Duguid, 1989; Mayer, 1996; Perkins & Salomon, 1989).
I wrote a previous post on 2 Core Philosophies to design Complex Problem Solving and Troubleshooting Training. I briefly touched upon 3 popular philosophies and 5 major methods (Problem based learning, Project Based Learning, Scenario Based Learning, Case Based Method and Simulation Based Learning) to design general problem solving, which may have application in complex problem solving training design as well.
Collectively let’s call these 5 methods as Problem Centered Training Methods.
Problem Centered Training Methods
a) Inquiry Based learning
In inquiry based learning, learning start with a real-life or close to real-life problem or scenario. Participants are taught how to analyze problem, identify facts about the problem, understand the environment and situation, develop hypotheses about the problem, identify necessary knowledge or skill required to solve the problem and make appropriate judgment about solving the problem. The problem may or may not have a pre-determined outcome.
Following are subsets of inquiry based learning (Buch and Wolff, 2000).
- Problem based learning
- Project based learning
- Scenario based learning
If we think of Problem Based Learning, Scenario Based Learning and Project Based Learning as a continuum, then Problem Based Learning would fall on the left hand side of the scale while Scenario Based Learning falls somewhere in the middle and Project Based Learning falls on the right hand side of the scale. Thomsen et. al (2010) explained that “At one end of the spectrum is problem based learning where ‘the problem’, which generally has a predetermined outcome, is used to direct the students to both acquire and assimilate the necessary knowledge in the process of solving it. In PBL the solution may be less important than the new knowledge gained during the process.”
b) Case Based Method (CBM)
In second type of method called case method, a complex problem is generally given to the participants in form of assignment or project. The given case generally aligns with learning objectives. Most of the time case may have several correct answers based on the approach or solution. The case based method is used generally to develop larger critical thinking. This method situates the knowledge in real-world contexts (Barnes, Christensen & Hansen, 1994).
c) Simulation Based Teaching (SBT)
In technical context, especially for teaching troubleshooting, “Simulation based teaching” became very popular philosophy and these were extended beyond technical fields. This methodology gave a great success to issue based teaching by simulating it right within the training class.
Does these method work in Complex Problem Solving Skill Training?
Coming to complex problem solving (refer to my earlier post on expertise in complexity), three fundamental questions spring up in regards to these methods:
- Does the common methods from general problem solving skill training like Problem Based Learning, Case Based Method or Simulation Based Learning etc. work into designing and delivering training on high complex and mission critical skills?
- Can any of those training methods be used to accelerate expertise or proficiency in acquiring complex problem solving and troubleshooting skills?
- How to implement or use applicable training methods to design complex training particularly in problem solving and troubleshooting skills of higher order?
Stay Tuned for 5 Next Posts
Next 5 posts will address above fundamental questions from the angle of complex problem solving and troubleshooting skill training.