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Problem solving - Woods, 2000

Woods, D.R. (2000). An evidence-based strategy for problem solving. Journal of Engineering Education, 89(4), 443-459.

The author lists 150 published problem solving strategies, although he complains that few are based in research. In an appendix after the (huge number of) references, he briefly gives each of those strategies. The author finds many similarities between the strategies, such as “understand the problem” and “verify your answer”. The strategies vary in number of stages, but it is usually between two and seven. Some have mnemonics, some draw analogies. The author describes careful criteria for an effective problem solving strategy, such as “If possible, none of the stages should include titles describing a skill or attitude … since that skill or attitude could be used in many different stages” (p. 444). He warns against encouraging a linear mindset towards the strategy, by, for instance, numbering the steps, or giving them in an obvious sequence. The author present a strategy represented on a disc, rather than linearly, with six stages, each carefully described. The strategy was based on the literature, trialled on expert practitioners and refined over years of student use.

Do not treat this blog entry as a replacement for reading the paper. This blog post represents the understandings and opinions of Torquetum only and could contain errors, misunderstandings and subjective views.