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Indicator 31 – Problem Solving

Delivering Instruction

Developing Thinking Skills

Indicator 31 - Problem Solving UETS 2d., 3b., 3f., 4c., 6d., 7e., 7f.

Effective teachers support students as they develop mastery in problem solving techniques. They "coach" them by posing problems, providing clues, then withdrawing as students become more proficient in using the process. Problem solving is a mental process that involves discovering, analyzing, and solving problems. The ultimate goal of problem solving is to overcome obstacles and find a solution that best resolves the issue.


  1. Pose a problem; then support students through the problem solving process by:
    • Providing additional instruction
    • Giving cues (either visual or oral)
    • Reframing suggestions for arriving at a solution
    • Supplying additional questions to be considered
    • Modeling the appropriate procedure for resolving a problem
  1. Problem solving follows a series of steps. Effective teachers help students think through the process of solving a problem. Students need to see how the process actually gives rise to solutions through logical, sequential deduction and rational thought. Providing some possible steps to problem solving may help students start the process more easily. Some possible steps are as follows:
    • Identifying and defining the problem
    • Forming a strategy
    • Organizing the information
    • Monitoring their progress (If they are not making good progress toward reaching their goal, they will need to reevaluate their approach or look for new strategies.)
    • Evaluating the results
  1. Compliment a student's thought process and use questions to further the investigation:
    • "Excellent! That never occurred to me!"
    • “I can tell you are thinking! Are there any others ways it could happen?”
  1. Use games such as "20 Questions" to show students how to narrow and focus in on a solution, especially if you think out loud while the game is going on.
  2. Encourage students to use the problem solving strategies you are teaching them to deal with real-life problems.


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