This strategy is designed to help you understand the process of problem solving. You can apply it to solving your own problems or understanding how others have solved problems. For each step, use self talk to verbalize the thinking required. Also, use graphic organizers to help you represent the relationship between the ideas at each of the steps.
S et out the problem.
  • Identify the problem to be solved.

  • Say it in your own words. Then write it down so you are sure that you understand it.

  • For example, if the problem is how to solve the gasoline crisis, write:

    "What are all the ways that the gasoline shortage can be solved?"

Example of indenting problem to be solved.
O utline all possible solutions.
  • Brainstorm all the ways that the problem might be solved.

  • Don't reject any solutions at this step.

  • Construct a graphic organizer with the problem written in the circle in the center and all the possible solutions written in circles coming out of the center circle.

  • For example, for the gasoline shortage, the following solutions might be projected:
    • Conservation.
    • Alternate fuels.
    • Electric cars.
    • Unlimited exploration of oil in the US.
    • Unlimited exploration of oil in the world.
    • More fuel efficient cars.
    • More public transportation.
Example of a boy brainstorming.

L ist all the consequences of each of the solutions that was outlined.
  • Think of what will be the likely effects of each solution. Think of the solution as a cause and the consequences as effects.

  • Create a graphic organizer for each solution where the solution is written in the center circle and the consequences are written in circles that project from the center circle.

  • For example, for the consequence of unlimited exploration of gasoline in the US, the following consequences might be projected.
    • Might result in ecological problems.
    • There might not be limitless reserves of gasoline.


V iew the rankings.
  • On the basis of the consequences you projected for each possible solution, rank the solutions in terms of what will work with the least amount of negative consequences.

  • View the rankings and select the highest ranked solution (or solutions) as the choice to be put into action. There may not be one best solution.

  • For the example above, you might rank the possible solutions in the following order based on the ease with which they could be put into effect and the least resistance from the public.
    1. More fuel efficient cars.
    2. More public transportation.
    3. Conservation.
    4. Alternate fuels.
    5. Electric cars.
    6. Unlimited oil exploration in the US.
    7. Unlimited oil exploration in the world.
Ranking the solutions.
E xecute the solution.
  • The highest ranked solution (or solutions) should be put into action. Think of all the things that would have to be done to make the solution work. Make a list of these.

  • To execute the above example, the list of actions that would have to be taken might include: getting the car manufacturers to increase fuel efficiency, getting governments to allocate more money for public transportation, getting the public to change its opinion toward use of public transportation, etc.
A boy executing the solution.
D id it work?
  • If you put the solution into action, evaluate it to see if it worked. If it did not, go back and view the other possible solutions and consider which should be tried.

  • If it is not possible to put the solution into action, as in the previous example, list questions that need to be answered to determine if the solutions worked. For example, you might ask:
    • Do people use more public transportation if more options are provided?
    • Would auto manufacturers willingly increase fuel efficiency?
    • Who would pay for production of alternate forms of fuel?

  • In some cases, you will need to go back and start the problem solving process again to search for the best solutions to the problem.



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