Problem solving

Problems tend to crop up on a daily basis whether at home, school, college or at work. Some solutions can be quick and easy, but sometimes it takes a bit of thought and effort to solve a problem. Once you explore any problem, you'll understand that there are many different ways to solve it. The tricky bit is knowing how to come up with a selection of options for dealing with your problem and to pick the one that will work best.

Rather than rush in to solve your problem, it's definitely worth thinking about all the consequences and planning out what you could do, before you do it. That way, you'll stay in control and you'll feel far more confident about what you're doing. Knowing how to tackle a problem properly is a skill that takes practice.

Problem solving standards

Evidence must clearly show that the learner can:

PS1

Identify a problem and the tools and techniques that could be used to explore the problem

1.1 Identify, analyse and describe the problem

1.2 Identify a variety of tools and techniques which could be used to explore the problem

1.3 Plan how you will investigate the problem highlighting the which tools and techniques will be used

PS2

Implement both the plan to investigate the problem and the plan to solve the problem

2.1 Implement the plan for investigating the problem and seek support and feedback from others as necessary

2.2 Record and analyse the results of the investigation

2.3 Identify the solution(s) to solve the problem

2.4 Plan the steps to be taken in order to solve the problem, identifying any risks, and implement the solution

PS3

Check if the problem has been resolved and review the approach to tackling problems

3.1 Check whether the problem has been resolved/solved

3.2 Analyse the results and draw conclusions on the success of the problem solving process

3.3 Review the approach to tackling/solving the problem, including whether other approaches might have proved more effective

Required evidence

  • PLAN (1) – to be completed by the learner
  • DO (2) – to be completed by the learner
  • REVIEW (3) -  to be completed by the assessor

Learner Guidance

The learner must demonstrate:

  • a systematic approach to tackling problems, including identifying which is the most appropriate method, then developing a plan and implementing it.
  • how they went about the problem-solving process.

Evidence should be on individual performance. A group approach to problem solving does not allow learners to achieve specific elements of the standards.

Activities must always be in relation to the core subject content and should not be simulated.

Effective definition of the problem will help the learner tackle it systematically and produce valid evidence. Tutors may discuss with learners the most appropriate definition of the problem and what sort of results might be expected so the learner is clear on what would show that the problem had been solved.

PS1

Learners should:

  • recognise, identify and describe the main features of the problem.
  • identify how they will explore the problem and the tools and techniques they will use.
  • use a variety of methods for exploring the problem.

PS2

Learners should:

  • obtain approval to implement their plan from an appropriate person, which could be the Tutor or Supervisor.
  • make effective judgements, based on feedback and support available, when putting their plan into action.
  • check their plan regularly for progress and revise it accordingly.

PS3

Learners should:

  • use an appropriate method for checking if the problem has been solved. For example if a learner designed a procedure or process for improving a system that records information, they would need to test this out and report back on their findings.
  • know how to describe the results in detail and draw conclusions on the success of their problem solving skills.
  • reflect back on the process considering areas such as:
  • Did they spend enough time considering the features of the problem?
  • Were they effective in planning action points to tackle the problem?Did they take a logical approach to checking if the problem had been solved/resolved?
  • In some circumstances, achievement of the standard may be possible even if the problem has not been solved or resolved, especially if factors were outside of their control, and the learner was able to demonstrate the process of tackling the problem.

In some circumstances, achievement of the standard may be possible even if the problem has not been solved or resolved, especially if factors were outside of their control, and the learner was able to demonstrate the process of tackling the problem.

Tutor Guidance

  • Tutors should check problem solving implementation planning
  • Tutors may be required to provide witness statement in support of evidencing the processes.