• Personal Resonance© is a research forum engaged in transforming findings from proven research studies on learning, training, performance and expertise into practical training solutions and practices to 'accelerate time-to-expertise' of organizations and professionals. Aggressive time-to-market drives organizations to develop complex cognitive skills of their employees at faster pace to beat their competitors. Goal of forum is to find and share the answer to that ‘speed’. The forum is trying to develop a core knowledge-base in four areas by systematically assimilating, analyzing and synthesizing the proven research studies in wide range of disciplines like cognitive sciences, neuroscience, psychology, education, learning and brain science, etc.: 1) Accelerated Workplace Expertise: Proven research-based strategies and methodologies to accelerate expertise of organization as a whole through training and learning. 2) Accelerated Professional Expertise: Science-based resonance techniques to accelerate expertise, peak performance and effectiveness of individuals. 3) Strategic Training Management: Experience-based competitive philosophies and processes to manage large-scale complex learning and knowledge operations to produce proficient workforce. 4) Competitive Instructional Design: Advanced instructional and learning design techniques to deliver higher order complex skills like problem solving, critical thinking, decision making, technical troubleshooting.

3 Problem Centered Training Methods in Complex Problem Solving Skills

problem centered training methods

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).

  1. Problem based learning
  2. Project based learning
  3. 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:

  1. 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?
  2. Can any of those training methods be used to accelerate expertise or proficiency in acquiring complex problem solving and troubleshooting skills?
  3. 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.

About Raman K. Attri

Raman K. Attri is a complex learning strategist, a transformational training consultant and a researcher with over 20 years of experience in engineering, management and technical training. His primary area of focus is to provide strategic directions to organizations in implementing next-generation competitive training strategies. His research interests include complex learning, accelerated expertise and advanced instructional design. He is also the founder of Personal Resonance©, a research forum with a charter to transform proven research studies on accelerated expertise into organizational training practices. His training and learning solutions are strongly founded in system engineering techniques applied to large-scale training programs. Equipped with scientific training methods, he innovated two research-backed complex learning frameworks namely SEAT© (Systems Engineering Approach to Training) and ProBT© (Proficiency Based Training) methodology primarily meant for organizations to accelerate development of complex cognitive skills of their employees systematically at faster rate. He is highly passionate about learning. He holds Professional Doctorate in Corporate Training, MBA in Operations Management and Executive MBA in Customer Relationship Management. Currently he is pursuing another Doctorate degree from Southern Cross University. His personal interests involve writing and painting.
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