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26 Good Examples of Problem Solving (Interview Answers)

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good examples of problem solving for job interviews and cover letters

Employers like to hire people who can solve problems and work well under pressure. A job rarely goes 100% according to plan, so hiring managers will be more likely to hire you if you seem like you can handle unexpected challenges while staying calm and logical in your approach.

But how do they measure this?

They’re going to ask you interview questions about these problem solving skills, and they might also look for examples of problem solving on your resume and cover letter. So coming up, I’m going to share a list of examples of problem solving, whether you’re an experienced job seeker or recent graduate.

Then I’ll share sample interview answers to, “Give an example of a time you used logic to solve a problem?”

Examples of Problem Solving Scenarios in the Workplace

Problem Solving Examples for Recent Grads/Entry Level Job Seekers

You can share all of the examples above when you’re asked questions about problem solving in your interview. As you can see, even if you have no professional work experience, it’s possible to think back to problems and unexpected challenges that you faced in your studies and discuss how you solved them.

Interview Answers to “Give an Example of an Occasion When You Used Logic to Solve a Problem”

Now, let’s look at some sample interview answers to, “Give me an example of a time you used logic to solve a problem,” since you’re likely to hear this interview question in all sorts of industries.

Example Answer 1:

At my current job, I recently solved a problem where a client was upset about our software pricing. They had misunderstood the sales representative who explained pricing originally, and when their package renewed for its second month, they called to complain about the invoice. I apologized for the confusion and then spoke to our billing team to see what type of solution we could come up with. We decided that the best course of action was to offer a long-term pricing package that would provide a discount. This not only solved the problem but got the customer to agree to a longer-term contract, which means we’ll keep their business for at least one year now, and they’re happy with the pricing. I feel I got the best possible outcome and the way I chose to solve the problem was effective.

Example Answer 2:

In my last job, I had to do quite a bit of problem solving related to our shift scheduling. We had four people quit within a week and the department was severely understaffed. I coordinated a ramp-up of our hiring efforts, I got approval from the department head to offer bonuses for overtime work, and then I found eight employees who were willing to do overtime this month. I think the key problem solving skills here were taking initiative, communicating clearly, and reacting quickly to solve this problem before it became an even bigger issue.

Example Answer 3:

In my current marketing role, my manager asked me to come up with a solution to our declining social media engagement. I assessed our current strategy and recent results, analyzed what some of our top competitors were doing, and then came up with an exact blueprint we could follow this year to emulate our best competitors but also stand out and develop a unique voice as a brand. I feel this is a good example of using logic to solve a problem because it was based on analysis and observation of competitors, rather than guessing or quickly reacting to the situation without reliable data. I always use logic and data to solve problems when possible. The project turned out to be a success and we increased our social media engagement by an average of 82% by the end of the year.

Answering Questions About Problem Solving with the STAR Method

When you answer interview questions about problem solving scenarios, or if you decide to demonstrate your problem solving skills in a cover letter (which is a good idea any time the job description mention problem solving as a necessary skill), I recommend using the STAR method to tell your story.

STAR stands for:

It’s a simple way of walking the listener or reader through the story in a way that will make sense to them. So before jumping in and talking about the problem that needed solving, make sure to describe the general situation. What job/company were you working at? When was this? Then, you can describe the task at hand and the problem that needed solving. After this, describe the course of action you chose and why. Ideally, show that you evaluated all the information you could given the time you had, and made a decision based on logic and fact.

Finally, describe a positive result you got.

Whether you’re answering interview questions about problem solving or writing a cover letter, you should only choose examples where you got a positive result and successfully solved the issue.

What Are Good Outcomes of Problem Solving?

Whenever you answer interview questions about problem solving or share examples of problem solving in a cover letter, you want to be sure you’re sharing a positive outcome.

Below are good outcomes of problem solving:

Every employer wants to make more money, save money, and save time. If you can assess your problem solving experience and think about how you’ve helped past employers in those three areas, then that’s a great start. That’s where I recommend you begin looking for stories of times you had to solve problems.

Tips to Improve Your Problem Solving Skills

Throughout your career, you’re going to get hired for better jobs and earn more money if you can show employers that you’re a problem solver. So to improve your problem solving skills, I recommend always analyzing a problem and situation before acting. When discussing problem solving with employers, you never want to sound like you rush or make impulsive decisions. They want to see fact-based or data-based decisions when you solve problems. Next, to get better at solving problems, analyze the outcomes of past solutions you came up with. You can recognize what works and what doesn’t. Think about how you can get better at researching and analyzing a situation, but also how you can get better at communicating, deciding the right people in the organization to talk to and “pull in” to help you if needed, etc. Finally, practice staying calm even in stressful situations. Take a few minutes to walk outside if needed. Step away from your phone and computer to clear your head. A work problem is rarely so urgent that you cannot take five minutes to think (with the possible exception of safety problems), and you’ll get better outcomes if you solve problems by acting logically instead of rushing to react in a panic.

You can use all of the ideas above to describe your problem solving skills when asked interview questions about the topic. If you say that you do the things above, employers will be impressed when they assess your problem solving ability.

If you practice the tips above, you’ll be ready to share detailed, impressive stories and problem solving examples that will make hiring managers want to offer you the job. Every employer appreciates a problem solver, whether solving problems is a requirement listed on the job description or not. And you never know which hiring manager or interviewer will ask you about a time you solved a problem, so you should always be ready to discuss this when applying for a job.

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Biron Clark

Biron Clark is a former executive recruiter who has worked individually with hundreds of job seekers, reviewed thousands of resumes and LinkedIn profiles, and recruited for top venture-backed startups and Fortune 500 companies. He has been advising job seekers since 2012 to think differently in their job search and land high-paying, competitive positions.

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Community policing emphasizes proactive problem solving in a systematic and routine fashion. Rather than responding to crime only after it occurs, community policing encourages agencies to proactively develop solutions to the immediate underlying conditions contributing to public safety problems. Problem solving must be infused into all police operations and guide decision-making efforts. Agencies are encouraged to think innovatively about their responses and view making arrests as only one of a wide array of potential responses. A major conceptual vehicle for helping officers to think about problem solving in a structured and disciplined way is the scanning, analysis, response, and assessment (SARA) model .

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7.3 Problem-Solving

Learning objectives.

By the end of this section, you will be able to:

   People face problems every day—usually, multiple problems throughout the day. Sometimes these problems are straightforward: To double a recipe for pizza dough, for example, all that is required is that each ingredient in the recipe be doubled. Sometimes, however, the problems we encounter are more complex. For example, say you have a work deadline, and you must mail a printed copy of a report to your supervisor by the end of the business day. The report is time-sensitive and must be sent overnight. You finished the report last night, but your printer will not work today. What should you do? First, you need to identify the problem and then apply a strategy for solving the problem.

The study of human and animal problem solving processes has provided much insight toward the understanding of our conscious experience and led to advancements in computer science and artificial intelligence. Essentially much of cognitive science today represents studies of how we consciously and unconsciously make decisions and solve problems. For instance, when encountered with a large amount of information, how do we go about making decisions about the most efficient way of sorting and analyzing all the information in order to find what you are looking for as in visual search paradigms in cognitive psychology. Or in a situation where a piece of machinery is not working properly, how do we go about organizing how to address the issue and understand what the cause of the problem might be. How do we sort the procedures that will be needed and focus attention on what is important in order to solve problems efficiently. Within this section we will discuss some of these issues and examine processes related to human, animal and computer problem solving.


   When people are presented with a problem—whether it is a complex mathematical problem or a broken printer, how do you solve it? Before finding a solution to the problem, the problem must first be clearly identified. After that, one of many problem solving strategies can be applied, hopefully resulting in a solution.

Problems themselves can be classified into two different categories known as ill-defined and well-defined problems (Schacter, 2009). Ill-defined problems represent issues that do not have clear goals, solution paths, or expected solutions whereas well-defined problems have specific goals, clearly defined solutions, and clear expected solutions. Problem solving often incorporates pragmatics (logical reasoning) and semantics (interpretation of meanings behind the problem), and also in many cases require abstract thinking and creativity in order to find novel solutions. Within psychology, problem solving refers to a motivational drive for reading a definite “goal” from a present situation or condition that is either not moving toward that goal, is distant from it, or requires more complex logical analysis for finding a missing description of conditions or steps toward that goal. Processes relating to problem solving include problem finding also known as problem analysis, problem shaping where the organization of the problem occurs, generating alternative strategies, implementation of attempted solutions, and verification of the selected solution. Various methods of studying problem solving exist within the field of psychology including introspection, behavior analysis and behaviorism, simulation, computer modeling, and experimentation.

A problem-solving strategy is a plan of action used to find a solution. Different strategies have different action plans associated with them (table below). For example, a well-known strategy is trial and error. The old adage, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again” describes trial and error. In terms of your broken printer, you could try checking the ink levels, and if that doesn’t work, you could check to make sure the paper tray isn’t jammed. Or maybe the printer isn’t actually connected to your laptop. When using trial and error, you would continue to try different solutions until you solved your problem. Although trial and error is not typically one of the most time-efficient strategies, it is a commonly used one.

   Another type of strategy is an algorithm. An algorithm is a problem-solving formula that provides you with step-by-step instructions used to achieve a desired outcome (Kahneman, 2011). You can think of an algorithm as a recipe with highly detailed instructions that produce the same result every time they are performed. Algorithms are used frequently in our everyday lives, especially in computer science. When you run a search on the Internet, search engines like Google use algorithms to decide which entries will appear first in your list of results. Facebook also uses algorithms to decide which posts to display on your newsfeed. Can you identify other situations in which algorithms are used?

A heuristic is another type of problem solving strategy. While an algorithm must be followed exactly to produce a correct result, a heuristic is a general problem-solving framework (Tversky & Kahneman, 1974). You can think of these as mental shortcuts that are used to solve problems. A “rule of thumb” is an example of a heuristic. Such a rule saves the person time and energy when making a decision, but despite its time-saving characteristics, it is not always the best method for making a rational decision. Different types of heuristics are used in different types of situations, but the impulse to use a heuristic occurs when one of five conditions is met (Pratkanis, 1989):

Working backwards is a useful heuristic in which you begin solving the problem by focusing on the end result. Consider this example: You live in Washington, D.C. and have been invited to a wedding at 4 PM on Saturday in Philadelphia. Knowing that Interstate 95 tends to back up any day of the week, you need to plan your route and time your departure accordingly. If you want to be at the wedding service by 3:30 PM, and it takes 2.5 hours to get to Philadelphia without traffic, what time should you leave your house? You use the working backwards heuristic to plan the events of your day on a regular basis, probably without even thinking about it.

Another useful heuristic is the practice of accomplishing a large goal or task by breaking it into a series of smaller steps. Students often use this common method to complete a large research project or long essay for school. For example, students typically brainstorm, develop a thesis or main topic, research the chosen topic, organize their information into an outline, write a rough draft, revise and edit the rough draft, develop a final draft, organize the references list, and proofread their work before turning in the project. The large task becomes less overwhelming when it is broken down into a series of small steps.

Further problem solving strategies have been identified (listed below) that incorporate flexible and creative thinking in order to reach solutions efficiently.

Additional Problem Solving Strategies :

The strategies listed above outline a short summary of methods we use in working toward solutions and also demonstrate how the mind works when being faced with barriers preventing goals to be reached.

One example of means-end analysis can be found by using the Tower of Hanoi paradigm . This paradigm can be modeled as a word problems as demonstrated by the Missionary-Cannibal Problem :

Missionary-Cannibal Problem

Three missionaries and three cannibals are on one side of a river and need to cross to the other side. The only means of crossing is a boat, and the boat can only hold two people at a time. Your goal is to devise a set of moves that will transport all six of the people across the river, being in mind the following constraint: The number of cannibals can never exceed the number of missionaries in any location. Remember that someone will have to also row that boat back across each time.

Hint : At one point in your solution, you will have to send more people back to the original side than you just sent to the destination.

The actual Tower of Hanoi problem consists of three rods sitting vertically on a base with a number of disks of different sizes that can slide onto any rod. The puzzle starts with the disks in a neat stack in ascending order of size on one rod, the smallest at the top making a conical shape. The objective of the puzzle is to move the entire stack to another rod obeying the following rules:

examples of problem solving theories

  Figure 7.02. Steps for solving the Tower of Hanoi in the minimum number of moves when there are 3 disks.

examples of problem solving theories

Figure 7.03. Graphical representation of nodes (circles) and moves (lines) of Tower of Hanoi.

The Tower of Hanoi is a frequently used psychological technique to study problem solving and procedure analysis. A variation of the Tower of Hanoi known as the Tower of London has been developed which has been an important tool in the neuropsychological diagnosis of executive function disorders and their treatment.


As you may recall from the sensation and perception chapter, Gestalt psychology describes whole patterns, forms and configurations of perception and cognition such as closure, good continuation, and figure-ground. In addition to patterns of perception, Wolfgang Kohler, a German Gestalt psychologist traveled to the Spanish island of Tenerife in order to study animals behavior and problem solving in the anthropoid ape.

As an interesting side note to Kohler’s studies of chimp problem solving, Dr. Ronald Ley, professor of psychology at State University of New York provides evidence in his book A Whisper of Espionage  (1990) suggesting that while collecting data for what would later be his book  The Mentality of Apes (1925) on Tenerife in the Canary Islands between 1914 and 1920, Kohler was additionally an active spy for the German government alerting Germany to ships that were sailing around the Canary Islands. Ley suggests his investigations in England, Germany and elsewhere in Europe confirm that Kohler had served in the German military by building, maintaining and operating a concealed radio that contributed to Germany’s war effort acting as a strategic outpost in the Canary Islands that could monitor naval military activity approaching the north African coast.

While trapped on the island over the course of World War 1, Kohler applied Gestalt principles to animal perception in order to understand how they solve problems. He recognized that the apes on the islands also perceive relations between stimuli and the environment in Gestalt patterns and understand these patterns as wholes as opposed to pieces that make up a whole. Kohler based his theories of animal intelligence on the ability to understand relations between stimuli, and spent much of his time while trapped on the island investigation what he described as  insight , the sudden perception of useful or proper relations. In order to study insight in animals, Kohler would present problems to chimpanzee’s by hanging some banana’s or some kind of food so it was suspended higher than the apes could reach. Within the room, Kohler would arrange a variety of boxes, sticks or other tools the chimpanzees could use by combining in patterns or organizing in a way that would allow them to obtain the food (Kohler & Winter, 1925).

While viewing the chimpanzee’s, Kohler noticed one chimp that was more efficient at solving problems than some of the others. The chimp, named Sultan, was able to use long poles to reach through bars and organize objects in specific patterns to obtain food or other desirables that were originally out of reach. In order to study insight within these chimps, Kohler would remove objects from the room to systematically make the food more difficult to obtain. As the story goes, after removing many of the objects Sultan was used to using to obtain the food, he sat down ad sulked for a while, and then suddenly got up going over to two poles lying on the ground. Without hesitation Sultan put one pole inside the end of the other creating a longer pole that he could use to obtain the food demonstrating an ideal example of what Kohler described as insight. In another situation, Sultan discovered how to stand on a box to reach a banana that was suspended from the rafters illustrating Sultan’s perception of relations and the importance of insight in problem solving.

Grande (another chimp in the group studied by Kohler) builds a three-box structure to reach the bananas, while Sultan watches from the ground.  Insight , sometimes referred to as an “Ah-ha” experience, was the term Kohler used for the sudden perception of useful relations among objects during problem solving (Kohler, 1927; Radvansky & Ashcraft, 2013).

Solving puzzles.

   Problem-solving abilities can improve with practice. Many people challenge themselves every day with puzzles and other mental exercises to sharpen their problem-solving skills. Sudoku puzzles appear daily in most newspapers. Typically, a sudoku puzzle is a 9×9 grid. The simple sudoku below (see figure) is a 4×4 grid. To solve the puzzle, fill in the empty boxes with a single digit: 1, 2, 3, or 4. Here are the rules: The numbers must total 10 in each bolded box, each row, and each column; however, each digit can only appear once in a bolded box, row, and column. Time yourself as you solve this puzzle and compare your time with a classmate.

How long did it take you to solve this sudoku puzzle? (You can see the answer at the end of this section.)

   Here is another popular type of puzzle (figure below) that challenges your spatial reasoning skills. Connect all nine dots with four connecting straight lines without lifting your pencil from the paper:

Did you figure it out? (The answer is at the end of this section.) Once you understand how to crack this puzzle, you won’t forget.

   Take a look at the “Puzzling Scales” logic puzzle below (figure below). Sam Loyd, a well-known puzzle master, created and refined countless puzzles throughout his lifetime (Cyclopedia of Puzzles, n.d.).

A puzzle involving a scale is shown. At the top of the figure it reads: “Sam Loyds Puzzling Scales.” The first row of the puzzle shows a balanced scale with 3 blocks and a top on the left and 12 marbles on the right. Below this row it reads: “Since the scales now balance.” The next row of the puzzle shows a balanced scale with just the top on the left, and 1 block and 8 marbles on the right. Below this row it reads: “And balance when arranged this way.” The third row shows an unbalanced scale with the top on the left side, which is much lower than the right side. The right side is empty. Below this row it reads: “Then how many marbles will it require to balance with that top?”

What steps did you take to solve this puzzle? You can read the solution at the end of this section.

Pitfalls to problem solving.

   Not all problems are successfully solved, however. What challenges stop us from successfully solving a problem? Albert Einstein once said, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.” Imagine a person in a room that has four doorways. One doorway that has always been open in the past is now locked. The person, accustomed to exiting the room by that particular doorway, keeps trying to get out through the same doorway even though the other three doorways are open. The person is stuck—but she just needs to go to another doorway, instead of trying to get out through the locked doorway. A mental set is where you persist in approaching a problem in a way that has worked in the past but is clearly not working now.

Functional fixedness is a type of mental set where you cannot perceive an object being used for something other than what it was designed for. During the Apollo 13 mission to the moon, NASA engineers at Mission Control had to overcome functional fixedness to save the lives of the astronauts aboard the spacecraft. An explosion in a module of the spacecraft damaged multiple systems. The astronauts were in danger of being poisoned by rising levels of carbon dioxide because of problems with the carbon dioxide filters. The engineers found a way for the astronauts to use spare plastic bags, tape, and air hoses to create a makeshift air filter, which saved the lives of the astronauts.

   Researchers have investigated whether functional fixedness is affected by culture. In one experiment, individuals from the Shuar group in Ecuador were asked to use an object for a purpose other than that for which the object was originally intended. For example, the participants were told a story about a bear and a rabbit that were separated by a river and asked to select among various objects, including a spoon, a cup, erasers, and so on, to help the animals. The spoon was the only object long enough to span the imaginary river, but if the spoon was presented in a way that reflected its normal usage, it took participants longer to choose the spoon to solve the problem. (German & Barrett, 2005). The researchers wanted to know if exposure to highly specialized tools, as occurs with individuals in industrialized nations, affects their ability to transcend functional fixedness. It was determined that functional fixedness is experienced in both industrialized and nonindustrialized cultures (German & Barrett, 2005).

In order to make good decisions, we use our knowledge and our reasoning. Often, this knowledge and reasoning is sound and solid. Sometimes, however, we are swayed by biases or by others manipulating a situation. For example, let’s say you and three friends wanted to rent a house and had a combined target budget of $1,600. The realtor shows you only very run-down houses for $1,600 and then shows you a very nice house for $2,000. Might you ask each person to pay more in rent to get the $2,000 home? Why would the realtor show you the run-down houses and the nice house? The realtor may be challenging your anchoring bias. An anchoring bias occurs when you focus on one piece of information when making a decision or solving a problem. In this case, you’re so focused on the amount of money you are willing to spend that you may not recognize what kinds of houses are available at that price point.

The confirmation bias is the tendency to focus on information that confirms your existing beliefs. For example, if you think that your professor is not very nice, you notice all of the instances of rude behavior exhibited by the professor while ignoring the countless pleasant interactions he is involved in on a daily basis. Hindsight bias leads you to believe that the event you just experienced was predictable, even though it really wasn’t. In other words, you knew all along that things would turn out the way they did. Representative bias describes a faulty way of thinking, in which you unintentionally stereotype someone or something; for example, you may assume that your professors spend their free time reading books and engaging in intellectual conversation, because the idea of them spending their time playing volleyball or visiting an amusement park does not fit in with your stereotypes of professors.

Finally, the availability heuristic is a heuristic in which you make a decision based on an example, information, or recent experience that is that readily available to you, even though it may not be the best example to inform your decision . Biases tend to “preserve that which is already established—to maintain our preexisting knowledge, beliefs, attitudes, and hypotheses” (Aronson, 1995; Kahneman, 2011). These biases are summarized in the table below.

Were you able to determine how many marbles are needed to balance the scales in the figure below? You need nine. Were you able to solve the problems in the figures above? Here are the answers.

The first puzzle is a Sudoku grid of 16 squares (4 rows of 4 squares) is shown. Half of the numbers were supplied to start the puzzle and are colored blue, and half have been filled in as the puzzle’s solution and are colored red. The numbers in each row of the grid, left to right, are as follows. Row 1: blue 3, red 1, red 4, blue 2. Row 2: red 2, blue 4, blue 1, red 3. Row 3: red 1, blue 3, blue 2, red 4. Row 4: blue 4, red 2, red 3, blue 1.The second puzzle consists of 9 dots arranged in 3 rows of 3 inside of a square. The solution, four straight lines made without lifting the pencil, is shown in a red line with arrows indicating the direction of movement. In order to solve the puzzle, the lines must extend beyond the borders of the box. The four connecting lines are drawn as follows. Line 1 begins at the top left dot, proceeds through the middle and right dots of the top row, and extends to the right beyond the border of the square. Line 2 extends from the end of line 1, through the right dot of the horizontally centered row, through the middle dot of the bottom row, and beyond the square’s border ending in the space beneath the left dot of the bottom row. Line 3 extends from the end of line 2 upwards through the left dots of the bottom, middle, and top rows. Line 4 extends from the end of line 3 through the middle dot in the middle row and ends at the right dot of the bottom row.

   Many different strategies exist for solving problems. Typical strategies include trial and error, applying algorithms, and using heuristics. To solve a large, complicated problem, it often helps to break the problem into smaller steps that can be accomplished individually, leading to an overall solution. Roadblocks to problem solving include a mental set, functional fixedness, and various biases that can cloud decision making skills.


Openstax Psychology text by Kathryn Dumper, William Jenkins, Arlene Lacombe, Marilyn Lovett and Marion Perlmutter licensed under CC BY v4.0.

Review Questions:

1. A specific formula for solving a problem is called ________.

a. an algorithm

b. a heuristic

c. a mental set

d. trial and error

2. Solving the Tower of Hanoi problem tends to utilize a  ________ strategy of problem solving.

a. divide and conquer

b. means-end analysis

d. experiment

3. A mental shortcut in the form of a general problem-solving framework is called ________.

4. Which type of bias involves becoming fixated on a single trait of a problem?

a. anchoring bias

b. confirmation bias

c. representative bias

d. availability bias

5. Which type of bias involves relying on a false stereotype to make a decision?

6. Wolfgang Kohler analyzed behavior of chimpanzees by applying Gestalt principles to describe ________.

a. social adjustment

b. student load payment options

c. emotional learning

d. insight learning

7. ________ is a type of mental set where you cannot perceive an object being used for something other than what it was designed for.

a. functional fixedness

c. working memory

Critical Thinking Questions:

1. What is functional fixedness and how can overcoming it help you solve problems?

2. How does an algorithm save you time and energy when solving a problem?

Personal Application Question:

1. Which type of bias do you recognize in your own decision making processes? How has this bias affected how you’ve made decisions in the past and how can you use your awareness of it to improve your decisions making skills in the future?

anchoring bias

availability heuristic

confirmation bias

functional fixedness

hindsight bias

problem-solving strategy

representative bias

trial and error

working backwards

Answers to Exercises

algorithm:  problem-solving strategy characterized by a specific set of instructions

anchoring bias:  faulty heuristic in which you fixate on a single aspect of a problem to find a solution

availability heuristic:  faulty heuristic in which you make a decision based on information readily available to you

confirmation bias:  faulty heuristic in which you focus on information that confirms your beliefs

functional fixedness:  inability to see an object as useful for any other use other than the one for which it was intended

heuristic:  mental shortcut that saves time when solving a problem

hindsight bias:  belief that the event just experienced was predictable, even though it really wasn’t

mental set:  continually using an old solution to a problem without results

problem-solving strategy:  method for solving problems

representative bias:  faulty heuristic in which you stereotype someone or something without a valid basis for your judgment

trial and error:  problem-solving strategy in which multiple solutions are attempted until the correct one is found

working backwards:  heuristic in which you begin to solve a problem by focusing on the end result

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Problem-Solving Strategies and Obstacles

Kendra Cherry, MS, is an author and educational consultant focused on helping students learn about psychology.

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Sean is a fact-checker and researcher with experience in sociology, field research, and data analytics.

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From deciding what to eat for dinner to considering whether it's the right time to buy a house, problem-solving is a large part of our daily lives. Learn some of the problem-solving strategies that exist and how to use them in real life, along with ways to overcome obstacles that are making it harder to resolve the issues you face.

What Is Problem-Solving?

In cognitive psychology , the term 'problem-solving' refers to the mental process that people go through to discover, analyze, and solve problems.

A problem exists when there is a goal that we want to achieve but the process by which we will achieve it is not obvious to us. Put another way, there is something that we want to occur in our life, yet we are not immediately certain how to make it happen.

Maybe you want a better relationship with your spouse or another family member but you're not sure how to improve it. Or you want to start a business but are unsure what steps to take. Problem-solving helps you figure out how to achieve these desires.

The problem-solving process involves:

Before problem-solving can occur, it is important to first understand the exact nature of the problem itself. If your understanding of the issue is faulty, your attempts to resolve it will also be incorrect or flawed.

Problem-Solving Mental Processes

Several mental processes are at work during problem-solving. Among them are:

Problem-Solving Strategies

There are many ways to go about solving a problem. Some of these strategies might be used on their own, or you may decide to employ multiple approaches when working to figure out and fix a problem.

An algorithm is a step-by-step procedure that, by following certain "rules" produces a solution. Algorithms are commonly used in mathematics to solve division or multiplication problems. But they can be used in other fields as well.

In psychology, algorithms can be used to help identify individuals with a greater risk of mental health issues. For instance, research suggests that certain algorithms might help us recognize children with an elevated risk of suicide or self-harm.

One benefit of algorithms is that they guarantee an accurate answer. However, they aren't always the best approach to problem-solving, in part because detecting patterns can be incredibly time-consuming.

There are also concerns when machine learning is involved—also known as artificial intelligence (AI)—such as whether they can accurately predict human behaviors.

Heuristics are shortcut strategies that people can use to solve a problem at hand. These "rule of thumb" approaches allow you to simplify complex problems, reducing the total number of possible solutions to a more manageable set.

If you find yourself sitting in a traffic jam, for example, you may quickly consider other routes, taking one to get moving once again. When shopping for a new car, you might think back to a prior experience when negotiating got you a lower price, then employ the same tactics.

While heuristics may be helpful when facing smaller issues, major decisions shouldn't necessarily be made using a shortcut approach. Heuristics also don't guarantee an effective solution, such as when trying to drive around a traffic jam only to find yourself on an equally crowded route.

Trial and Error

A trial-and-error approach to problem-solving involves trying a number of potential solutions to a particular issue, then ruling out those that do not work. If you're not sure whether to buy a shirt in blue or green, for instance, you may try on each before deciding which one to purchase.

This can be a good strategy to use if you have a limited number of solutions available. But if there are many different choices available, narrowing down the possible options using another problem-solving technique can be helpful before attempting trial and error.

In some cases, the solution to a problem can appear as a sudden insight. You are facing an issue in a relationship or your career when, out of nowhere, the solution appears in your mind and you know exactly what to do.

Insight can occur when the problem in front of you is similar to an issue that you've dealt with in the past. Although, you may not recognize what is occurring since the underlying mental processes that lead to insight often happen outside of conscious awareness .

Research indicates that insight is most likely to occur during times when you are alone—such as when going on a walk by yourself, when you're in the shower, or when lying in bed after waking up.

How to Apply Problem-Solving Strategies in Real Life

If you're facing a problem, you can implement one or more of these strategies to find a potential solution. Here's how to use them in real life:

Obstacles to Problem-Solving

Problem-solving is not a flawless process as there are a number of obstacles that can interfere with our ability to solve a problem quickly and efficiently. These obstacles include:

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How to Improve Your Problem-Solving Skills

In the end, if your goal is to become a better problem-solver, it's helpful to remember that this is a process. Thus, if you want to improve your problem-solving skills, following these steps can help lead you to your solution:

You can find a way to solve your problems as long as you keep working toward this goal—even if the best solution is simply to let go because no other good solution exists.

Sarathy V. Real world problem-solving .  Front Hum Neurosci . 2018;12:261. doi:10.3389/fnhum.2018.00261

Dunbar K. Problem solving . A Companion to Cognitive Science . 2017. doi:10.1002/9781405164535.ch20

Stewart SL, Celebre A, Hirdes JP, Poss JW. Risk of suicide and self-harm in kids: The development of an algorithm to identify high-risk individuals within the children's mental health system . Child Psychiat Human Develop . 2020;51:913-924. doi:10.1007/s10578-020-00968-9

Rosenbusch H, Soldner F, Evans AM, Zeelenberg M. Supervised machine learning methods in psychology: A practical introduction with annotated R code . Soc Personal Psychol Compass . 2021;15(2):e12579. doi:10.1111/spc3.12579

Mishra S. Decision-making under risk: Integrating perspectives from biology, economics, and psychology . Personal Soc Psychol Rev . 2014;18(3):280-307. doi:10.1177/1088868314530517

Csikszentmihalyi M, Sawyer K. Creative insight: The social dimension of a solitary moment . In: The Systems Model of Creativity . 2015:73-98. doi:10.1007/978-94-017-9085-7_7

Chrysikou EG, Motyka K, Nigro C, Yang SI, Thompson-Schill SL. Functional fixedness in creative thinking tasks depends on stimulus modality .  Psychol Aesthet Creat Arts . 2016;10(4):425‐435. doi:10.1037/aca0000050

Huang F, Tang S, Hu Z. Unconditional perseveration of the short-term mental set in chunk decomposition .  Front Psychol . 2018;9:2568. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2018.02568

National Alliance on Mental Illness. Warning signs and symptoms .

Mayer RE. Thinking, problem solving, cognition, 2nd ed .

Schooler JW, Ohlsson S, Brooks K. Thoughts beyond words: When language overshadows insight. J Experiment Psychol: General . 1993;122:166-183. doi:10.1037/0096-3445.2.166

By Kendra Cherry Kendra Cherry, MS, is an author and educational consultant focused on helping students learn about psychology.

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7 Customer Service Problem-Solving Techniques with Examples

Problems themselves are not scary. What really makes our blood freeze is the lack of frameworks in mind of how to solve them. Lists, step-by-step instructions give us a roadmap to troubleshooting and reducing the barriers to success. 

Scary situations stop being such if you have the tools to solve them, believe in yourself and in what you are doing. 

Ok then, let’s assume it’s not your first day in customer service and you know how to act in case of clients’ complaints. How to stand out from the crowd? How to solve problems more effectively? 

Well, that’s where the list of 7 customer service problem-solving techniques can come in handy. I’ve selected the most original and efficient examples. But first things first.

What is problem-solving in customer service? 

Solving customers’ problems is more than just fixing the bugs or providing detailed instructions. It’s about being prompt, patient, polite, and staying by their side all the way through. Basically, you need to say what consumers want to hear while not instilling false expectations. 

In customer service , clients expect something more meaningful than just a financial solution if the issue has occurred. Survey results suggest that only 43% of respondents are satisfied with refunds. And 50% said they enjoyed the feedback that involved an apology, empathy, or other compensation unrelated to money. Unsurprisingly, 60% stated that they were happier when received both.

How does bad customer service damage your business?

Poor customer service is like an illness that, if left untreated, affects all parts of the business until complete destruction. 

Let me elaborate here. Imagine, a client faces a problem with a product, turns to customer support, doesn’t get proper help, gets annoyed, leaves a bad review, and discourages people from buying from this specific company. Slowly but surely the brand loses its reputation, fewer leads convert, employees leave for competitors, loyal customers also switch to alternatives, and eventually, revenue decreases irretrievably. Pretty grim scenario, isn’t it? But it’s exactly what happens if you provide poor customer service and do nothing to improve things. 

To make it a lot simpler to understand, here is an infographic. 

What happens after poor customer service

Basic customer service problem-solving steps

Acknowledging the importance of good customer support , some companies provide special training to their agents. What they learn among other things is a four-step process of solving problems. It’s 4 simple steps that a representative should follow.

4 steps of problem-solving approach

7 customer service problem-solving techniques 

In the race for happy, and therefore loyal customers, creativity and the ability to think outside the box will help a lot. Here are some original customer service problem-solving examples that you might want to apply at your company. 

1. Don’t argue, simply start with an apology

It’s a natural instinct to defend ourselves when someone insults us. But fighting with customers is a ‘red flag’ that results in an even bigger brawl. 

In most cases, angry clients will be annoyed with something that is not even your fault. However, this won’t stop them from blaming you for all the issues they are facing. In fact, you would often come across clients who have troubles because of their own fault. 

But you cannot point it out directly. Otherwise, you will shake their faith in your brand. The best problem-solving technique is to apologize first and ask for more information to investigate the problem. Because it doesn’t really matter whose fault it is if it’s your responsibility to fix it and reduce possible negative consequences.

When apologizing, try to be creative. Instead of using a canned response “Sorry for the inconvenience” , send a more human reply. 

Brief first-response phrases to extinguish the fire:

2. Send a lightning-fast response to the complaint 

Our First Aid Basics school teacher used to tell us that in most cases a fire can be dealt with with a cup of water during the first 1-2 minutes. If the moment is missed, only a troop of firefighters can save the situation.  

I feel like this principle applies also to customer service problem-solving. Once you get a complaint, there is a small window of around 2-5 minutes to reply. If you miss it, it’s going to take much more effort to calm down an angry customer. Because with every minute of your silence, they get even more irked. 

There are a few ways to provide speedy customer service.

Add live chat software to your website. It’s a communication tool for instant messaging with users. Some platforms like HelpCrunch , for instance, also offer tagging, assigning, sneak peek, and whatnot features on top of that. This way customer support agents can handle up to 5 chats simultaneously. 

A complaint we often saw, as consumers, about online stores was the lack of help that is easily available to you. When we created our e-commerce website, we wanted to resolve that issue by incorporating a live chat directly on our site. Live chat is great because it gives consumers accessibility straight from your website without having to abandon to seek support elsewhere. © Shares William Schumacher of Uprising Food .  

new HelpCrunch home page_widget open (online)

Leverage AI chatbots. Bots can significantly reduce the chat load on agents. Besides, this way you will be able to keep assisting your visitors even after office hours. Prompt responses are also an important benefit that comes with chatbots. But be careful, if a client experiences massive issues, they might not be in the mood to talk to a robot. Considering that in some complex cases they are not very helpful.

Hire more staff.   To deal with a growing number of customer queries, you might want to add more people to your team. Once newcomers master the guidelines policy (it might take up to a few months), they would be able to respond promptly. I suggest using the best tools to reduce wait time while gradually increasing staffing. 

One quick and polite reply can save the day. Even if the issue will take longer to fix, don’t worry. Your immediate reaction calms the user down because they know “you are on it”. 

3. Use visual content to win back customers

Why are images more trusted than text? 

As studies suggest, humans can process images up to 60,000 times faster than plain text. It means that with a single picture you can convey more information than with 100 words for that matter. In fact, images have the ability to transmit abstract notions such as facial expressions or emotions. 

Since we are visual creatures by nature, why not take advantage of this to enhance data processing and communication effectiveness?

So, when you send a message to a client saying “We are on it”, add an image to your reply. It can be anything depending on the product/service you sell. For instance, a selfie from the back-end developer fixing the issue or a screenshot showing that you added this task to the team’s to-do list with high priority. This way your reply looks more trustworthy. 

Especially if it comes to problem-solving on social media, pictures are extremely effective. They increase audience engagement, draw attention, and help users to remember your message. On average, Tweets with photos receive a 35% boost in Retweets. 

You can also use visuals when sharing step-by-step instructions with customers. At HelpCrunch, we rely on images frequently to educate our users on how to make the most out of the platform. Recently one of our clients turned to us asking for help with the Zapier integration. We included a screenshot with notes to our reply which helped to resolve the issue faster.

Integration with Zapier

4. Add a pinch of humor to the reply 

As they say, “Laughter is the closest distance between two people”. 

If you want to close the distance and become more human with the client, try to add a little humor to your answer: 

– You made me really sad I must say.

– Yes, John, we are very sad too. Hopefully, we will be able to return you to a better shape soon.

But with jokes, you need to be on the alert. While some clients appreciate the humor, others may perceive it as disrespectful to themselves. 

Let’s talk about Skyscanner’s sarcastic response in customer service that I personally found hilarious and quite brilliant. 

James Lloyd, a company’s user, got a suggested itinerary from the app saying he would have a layover in Bangkok lasting 413,786 hours, or 47.2 years. He immediately complained about the glitch and wanted to reproach the brand with this.

But the customer service agent was not taken aback and responded quite creatively, which made the answer memorable and viral.

Skyscanner funny reply

Don’t forget about funny gifs and memes that could definitely turn things around and make your customer smile.

5. Offer a generous compensation

I’d say this is the most intuitive technique. When we make someone feel bad, the immediate reaction is to compensate for the damage and give something in return. This approach immediately defuses a potentially problematic situation. 

Discounts, free items, or other bonuses direct the customer’s attention to the benefit they’ve just received. So instead of being angry about an issue, they feel happy with the gift you’ve given them.

However, there is a downside of such a tactic – it doesn’t guarantee that a client will return. They can just take a free item and never come back. 

If you want to attract a customer to use your service again, then consider offering a coupon or voucher for the next purchase. This way it’s more likely your unhappy client will return, giving your company the chance to earn back their trust and loyalty.

Not for nothing, KFC gives vouchers to dissatisfied customers (because it really works magic). Let’s say, a client ordered delivery from the restaurant, receives a package, and realizes that a caramel milkshake is missing. The customer went furious because this milkshake has been the most wanted item. They text the support department with a complaint. A friendly support representative apologizes sincerely, makes a refund, and offers a voucher for a free milkshake. The customer’s anger has gone away. Now they are calm and satisfied again. 

6. Take your apology offline

There are those customers you just can’t lose because they form the backbone of your revenue. In such circumstances, it might be necessary to take your apologies to a new level namely offline. Such a technique allows your unhappy clients to feel special and appreciated. 

For instance, invite the customer to come to your office and talk properly about the issue and what you can offer them as a better solution. It shows that their complaint is being taken seriously. 

I can think of another more creative way to say sorry – send your angry customers a gift in a branded packaging. Include some things that most people enjoy like sweets, tea collection, branded stationery items, etc. The gesture is what counts the most here.

There are some firms (Sorry As A Service, for instance) that can help you with that. When your company fails the client in any way,  you turn to such a company for help. You list what your “sorry” package should include and the guys take care of the rest. 

7. Empower your customers to help themselves

If you had two options, either resolve an issue by yourself or with the assistance of a customer representative, what would you choose? Interestingly, 67% of respondents go for self-service instead of communication with a support agent. 

That’s why we cannot fail to mention this problem-solving technique since it’s the most preferred way for many users. It’s especially true if you target millennials, a tech-savvy generation who got used to research answers online. Human interactions are only necessary if all the existing ways of troubleshooting failed.

In case young users feel that it’s too complicated to find the answers online, they will complain. And, most probably, they won’t text your support agents about their displeasure. Instead, they will go to social media directly to share their negative experience. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and now Tik Tok are today’s users’ weapons against your poor product quality or service. 

How to ensure a self-help option for your customers? 

Deploy a knowledge base feature . It’s a ‘help yourself’ functionality that allows users to find answers without a hint of your assistance. If a customer wants a refund, they can chat with your agents and ask ‘how to’ for the thousandth time. Or, they can read a step-by-step help article in your knowledge base. 

If you decide to go with the HelpCrunch software, you can in-build the knowledge base feature into a live chat widget so that customers don’t have to look for it across the website. 

HelpCrunch knowledge base_widget open

Prompt and empathetic responses are the key factors for high-quality customer service. Once users know you are taking care of their issues, they can get back to their daily activities. While the most damaging thing in problem-solving is silence. In the long term, it can ruin your brand and the company as a whole. Try to reply with an apology message during the first 2-5 minutes after the complaint has been sent.

The question is how to ensure high responsiveness? For that, savvy companies usually leverage special communication tools, like live chat, chatbot, or knowledge base. And I happen to know the one that might be just the thing. Thanks to its rich functionality, the HelpCrunch software allows your agents to handle up to 5 chats simultaneously. You can test the tool for free for 14 days now.

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examples of problem solving theories

Cognitive Theories in Problem-Solving Essay


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Learning to solve problems is not a simple process. Children go through several stages and generally learn by example plus trial and error. Until the last hundred years or so school was a constant round of drill and practice, so problems solving was something learned largely at home. A number of prominent psychologists have contributed to our bank of knowledge on this subject. We know much more now because of their work, but there is still a great deal to learn.

Gestalt theory (Ehrenfels) treats things like systems, chunks of knowledge, or procedures that we follow after observing them in others and then practicing. “Gestalt psychologists suggest that the events in the brain bear a structural correspondence to psychological events; indeed, it has been shown that steady electric currents in the brain correspond to structured perceptual events.” (“Gestalt”) In this way, it parallels procedural learning as opposed to domain learning. It was a serious departure from the then-established theory of separated functions.

According to the Gestaltists, the process of some problem-solving requires the reorganizing or restructuring of the elements of the problem situation in such a way as to provide a solution. This is known as productive thinking or insight. Reproductive thinking, on the other hand, relies on the rote application of past solutions to a problem. Functional fixedness occurs when there is a solution to a problem, but the subject is fixed on a set use of one part of the solution, such as its common use. For example, asking someone to water plants and giving them a bottle with the bottom cut off, some people do not think to turn the bottle upside-down and cover the top with their thumb or carrying the plants to the water. This also involves a problem-solving set as the usual procedure of carrying the water to the plants will stop some people from solving the problem. Luchins (1942) devised the more commonly know water jug problem with two jugs holding 3 gallons and 5 gallons and the subjects were asked to measure 4 gallons.

The schema theory proposed by Bartlett (1932) was another early attempt to provide a plausible explanation for our ability to make sense of perceptual input. The schema theory proposes that all new perceptual input is analyzed by comparing it with items that are already in our memory store, such as shapes and sounds which are familiar from past experience. These items are referred to as ‘schemas’, and they include a huge variety of sensory patterns and concepts. (Groome, 1999, p. 6).

Newell and Simon (1972) initiated research that resulted in the information processing view of problem-solving. It involves creating a space that contains both the problem state and the goal state and then working out the procedure to get from one to the other. They postulated that most problems are resolved using heuristics or “rules of thumb”, which are transferred to the new problem. Any knowledge gained in one task can be transferred to similar tasks. For example, learning to ride a bicycle can help one learn to ride a motorcycle. Both procedures or rules of thumb and methods can be transferred. For example, if one knows how to get the area of a triangle, one can figure out how to get the area of a square and many other similar shapes. Sometimes all that is required is that an analogy has been made on a similar problem to induce problem-solving. That is, the person who is aware of the method used for solving a similar problem may be able to apply that knowledge to a new problem. Someone who has devised a funnel from a piece of paper might also make a cup from the paper to carry something. For larger problems, breaking it into subtasks is useful. Choosing appropriate sub-goals to achieve the main goal is important to successful problem-solving. Gilhooly (1996).

Anderson (1993) proposed that there were nodes of information that would be activated according to the level of activity and this would allow the person to solve the problem. It is the activation of nearby nodes which activate the information. This adaptive thought control is postulated for the ability to drive. As we escalate action required for making a change, such as a turn, the needed procedures are automatically supplied.

All of these theories moved the research forward to where it is now. Each of these people mentioned and many not mentioned have contributed to the research. Each bit of research has been added to the pool and many new hypotheses have been formulated as a result of earlier research. It is possible that we will never uncover all the functions of cognitive problem solving, as we seem to create new ones as the environment demands.

Anderson, J.R. (1983). The Architecture of Cognition. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Bartlett, F.C. (1932). Remembering . Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Gestalt. (2004). In The Columbia Encyclopedia (6th ed.). New York: Columbia University Press. 2008. Web.

Gilhooly, K.J. (1996). Thinking: Directed, Undirected and Creative (3rd edn). London: Academic Press.

Groome, D. (1999). An Introduction to Cognitive Psychology: Processes and Disorders (H. Dewart, A. Esgate, K. Gurney, R. Kemp, & N. Towell, Ed.). London: Psychology Press. 2008. Web.

Luchins, A.S. (1942). Mechanization in problem solving. Psychological Monographs, 54, 6, Whole No. 248.

Maier, N.R.F. (1931). Reasoning in humans II: The solution of a problem and its appearance in consciousness. Journal of Comparative Psychology, 12,181-194.

Newell, A. and Simon, H.A. (1972). Human Problem Solving . Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.

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Solving Set Theory Problems (With Worked Examples)

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A set is a well-defined collection of objects or things. A set is represented by the symbol { } and capital letters are used to name a set. For example, let P {prime numbers from 1 to 30}, reads as P is the set of prime numbers. The elements of a set is the items or things that belong to the set. They are also called members of a set.

We will be solving set theory problems in this study. Follow the link for a recap on set theory

Given the universal set E = {odd numbers below 1 and 20} A = {x: x is divisible by 5} B = {x: x is prime number}, find: a) A n B b) A n C c) B n C d) (A n B) n C e) B U C

The universal set E = {1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, 13, 15, 17} A = {5, 15} B = {3, 9 15} C = {3, 5, 7, 11, 13, 17, 91} (a) A = {3, 7, 9, 11, 13, 17, 19} B = {3, 9, 11} A n C = {3, 9} (b) A = {3, 7, 9, 11, 13, 17, 19} C = {9, 15} A n C = {9} (c) B n C = {3} (d) (A n B) n C A n B = {15} C = {9, 5} (A n B) n C = {15} (e) B U C = {3, 5, 9, 11, 13, 15, 17, 19}

Twenty (20) people applied for a job, 12 have school certificate and 10 have diplomas. If 2 have no qualification, how many have both a school certificate and a diploma?

E = 20 C = 12 D = 10 12 X X 10 X 2 Let the universal set E = 20 School certificate = c Diploma = D No qualification n(e) = 20 n(c) = 12 n(d) = 10 n(c U D) = 2 To find x, 12 x + x + 10 x + 2 = 20 – x + 24 = 20 – x = 20 24 – x = -4 x = 4

No of people with school certificate and diploma = 4 people

10 members of a sport club play at least one of the games; football, basketball and volleyball. If 20 play football and basketball only, 15 play football and volleyball only. 26 play basketball and volleyball only, x play all the three games, 2x each play only one game, how many play basketball altogether?

E = 110 F B 2x 20 2x 15 x 26 2x V To find x, 2x + 20 + x + 15 + 2x + 26 + 2x = 110 7x + 61 = 110 7x = 110 61 7x = 49 x = 49/7 x = 7 no of people that play basketball = 7 + 19 + 13 + 14 = 53

In s survey of 290 newspaper reader, 181 of them read the daily times, 142 read the Guardian, 117 read punch and each read one of the three papers. If 75 reads the daily times and the Guardian, 60 read the daily times and Punch and 54 read the Guardian and punch. How many readers s read (i) All the three paper Exactly (2)two of the papers (3)Exactly one of the papers (4)The Guardian alone

n(e) = 290 n(d) = 181 n(g) = 142 n(p) 117 n(d n G) = 75 n(d n P) = 60 n(g n P) = 54 n(d n G n P) = x E = 290 D = 181 G = 142 46 + x 75-x 13+x 60-x x 54-x 3+x P = 117

Daily times only = 181 = (75 x + x + 60-x) = 181 (135 – x) = 181 135 + x

Guardian only = 142 (75 x + x + 54 x) = 142 (129 – x) = 142 129 + x Punch only = 117 (60 x + x + 54 – x) = 117 (114 – x) = 117 114 + x = 3 + x (i) (ii) (iii)

 (iv) All three papers (x) is 46 + x + 76 x + 13 + x + x + 60 x + 54 x + 3 + x = 290 = 251 + x = 290 x = 290 251 x = 39 people

Exactly two papers = (75 – x) + (60 – x) + (54 – x) = (75-39) + (60-39) + (54-39) = 36 + 21 + 15 = 12people Exactly one of the papers = (46 + x) + (13 + x) + (3 + x) = (46 + 39) + (13 + 39) + (3 + 39) = 85 + 52 + 42 = 179people

Guardian alone = 13 + x = 13 + 39 = 52 people

In a market, 70 sell maize and 80 sell yam. Also, 26 sell cassava and maize, 30 sell cassava and yam, 40 sell yam and maize. Each of the traders sells at least one of these crops.

n(m n Y) = 40 n(c n Y) = 30 n(m n Y n C) = x a) C = 90 Y = 80 34 + x 30-x 10+x x 54-x 26-x b

Cassava only = 90 (30 x + x + 26 – x) = 90 (56 – x) 4+x M = 70 = 90 56 + x = 34 + x polo

 Maize only = 70 (26 x + x + 40 – x) = 70 (66 – x) = 70 (66 + x) = 4 + x Yam only = 80 (30 x + x + 40 – x) = 80 (70 – x) = 80 70 + x = 10 + x b) n(c n M n Y) 34 + x + 30 x + x + 26 x + 10 + x + 40 x + 4 + x = 150 144 + x = 150 x = 150 144 x = 6 people


If A={1,4,5,6,9,8}, B ={1,6,9}, C={2,3,4,5}

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examples of problem solving theories

Clueless Political Scientist

by a clueless student for other clueless students

Tag: Problem Solving Theory

Social forces, states and world orders: beyond international relations theory by robert cox — a summary.

Robert W. Cox, “Social Forces, States and World Orders: Beyond International Relations Theory,” Millennium 10, no. 2 (June 1, 1981): 126–55.

It is common practice in academic disciplines to divide social reality into different spheres. This is a necessary exercise if practical knowledge is to be acquired. Such a division however is simply “a convenience of the mind” and is determined by the “peculiar times and places” in which the social reality is situated, i.e., its context. This implies that such a division cannot be sustained when the social reality changes.

International Relations is a case in point. Traditional IR built itself on the base of the subdivisions of “state” and “civil society”. This division was relevant to the two centuries preceding the birth of IR as a discipline when the state with limited functions (maintaining internal peace, external defence, managing the market) was distinct from the civil society based on contract and market relations. But today, the division is no longer clear-cut. (“State and civil society are so interpenetrated that the concepts have become almost purely analytical.”) This has greatly increased the complexity of (and as a corollary, the confusion with) the interactions as well as the institutions within which those interactions take place.

The influential trends of IR — neorealism which subordinates the state to anarchy, and neoliberalism which subordinates the state to transnational and intergovernmental interaction networks — have continued to maintain their focus on the traditional understanding of the state (“a state was a state was a state”). The result is that in IR, the plurality of the forms of the state expressing different state/society complexes have not been considered.

On Perspectives and Purposes

“Theory is always for someone and for some purpose.” That is to say, all theories have perspectives which are derived from the ‘peculiar’ social and political reality, and that there is no such thing as theory in itself.

The social reality imposes constraints (which manifest as problems) upon the perspective of a theory. It is the duty of theory to come to grips with these problems. When the reality changes, as it inevitably will, theory has to adjust or reject its old concepts and/or forge new ones. This is the dialectic between the perspective and the problematic which has to evolve as the context evolves.

Given a particular problematic, theory can either offer simple and direct diagnoses to the problems in terms of the particular perspective or it can also be reflective upon itself and attempt to open up new perspectives. In short, theory can be either problem-solving or critical.

“[Problem-solving theory] takes the world as it finds it, with the prevailing social and power relationships and the institutions into which they are organised, as the given framework for action. The general aim of problem-solving is to make these relationships and institutions work smoothly by dealing effectively with particular sources of trouble.”

Problem-solving theories are fragmented into different spheres or problem areas as they do not question the general patterns of institutions and relations. Their fixity on specific problem areas makes them more precise and enables them to arrive at strong inferences and prescriptions. However, this fixation on specific problem areas and on a continuing present makes them ahistorical.

 “[Critical theory] stands apart from the prevailing order of the world and asks how that order came about. It, unlike problem-solving theory, does not take institutions and social and power relations for granted but calls them into question by concerning itself with their origins and how and whether they might be in the process of changing.”

Critical theories, although they start from a particular sphere, are broader in that they are concerned with the political and social complex as a whole. They seek to understand processes of change meaning that they have to continually adjust their concepts and the methods of enquiry. As a result, critical theories lack the precision of problem-solving theories. Despite this, or rather because of this, they are able to deal with the vicissitudes of history.

Problem-solving theory … aims to solve the problems arising in various parts of a complex whole in order to smooth the functioning of the whole. This aim rather belies the frequent claim of problem-solving theory to be value-free. It is methodologically value-free insofar as it treats the variables it considers as objects; but it is value-bound by virtue of the fact that it implicitly accepts the prevailing order as its own framework.  (emphasis mine)

If critical theories see problem-solving theories as conservative, problem-solving theories accuse critical theories of not having practical application. If problem-solving theories accept the prevailing order, critical theories transcend it. If critical theory can inform strategic action for bringing about an alternative order, problem-solving theory is a guide to tactical actions that sustain the existing order. If periods of stability, like the Cold War, favour problem-solving theory, periods of uncertainty, like the 1970s, require critical theory.

Realism, Marxism and an Approach to a Critical Theory of World Order

Realist thinking about IR began as a historical approach going back at least to the writings of Niccolo Machiavelli. So long as realist thought studied the conduct of states as a reaction to specific historical circumstance, it was a contribution to critical theory. The works of Friedrich Meinecke and E.H. Carr belong to this mode of thought.

However, post-war American theorists such as Hans Morgenthau and Kenneth Waltz turned realism (hereafter, neo-realism) into problem-solving theory. This form of theorising assumes three levels of reality, namely (a) the self-interested nature of man, (b) the security-oriented nature of states, and (c) the anarchic nature of the state system. Having assumed all these, history then becomes, for the neo-realist, a quarry from where convenient examples may be mined.

Moreover, neo-realism presumes that such a characterisation of reality will be accepted by all actors. Neo-realism not only depends on the adoption of this neo-realist rationality but actively advocates the adoption of such a rationality. And it is precisely this advocacy, this “proselytising function”, which invalidates neo-realist claims about its value-free character.

The error … consists in taking a form of thought derived from a particular phase of history and assuming it to be universally valid. This is an error of neo-realism and more generally, the flawed foundation of all problem-solving theory.

For our purposes, it is necessary to distinguish two divergent Marxist currents … There is a Marxism [historical materialism] which reasons historically and seeks to explain, as well as to promote, changes in social relations; there is also a Marxism [structural Marxism], designed as a framework for the analysis of capitalist state and society which turns its back on historical knowledge in favour of the more static and abstract conceptualisation of the mode of production.

By contrast, Marxism in its approach to history, i.e., historical materialism, is a foremost source of critical theory and it corrects neo-realism in four important aspects.

First, through its use of the dialectic (in the Hegelian sense of the term), historical materialism sees conflict as fuelling the change in human nature and the social relations that govern human existence. In contrast, neo-realism sees conflict as inherent in the human condition.

In other words, neo-realism sees conflict as a recurrent consequence of a continuing structure, whereas historical materialism sees conflict as a possible cause of structural change.

Second, historical materialism adds a vertical dimension to power by examining imperialism whereas neo-realism is almost exclusively concerned about the horizontal dimension of rivalry.

Third, historical materialism engages with both the state and civil society, and in thinking about ‘structure’ and ‘superstructure’, it sees the state/society complexes as constituent entities of a world order.

Fourth, historical materialism treats the production process as a critical feature of the state/society complex. Neo-realism virtually ignores it.

This discussion has distinguished two kinds of theorising as a preliminary to proposing a critical approach to a theory of world order. Some of the basic premises for such a critical theory can now be restated:

(1) an awareness that action is never absolutely free but takes place within a framework for action which constitutes its problematic.

(2) a realisation that not only action but also theory is shaped by the problematic. Critical theory is conscious of its own relativity but through this consciousness can achieve a broader time-perspective and become less relative than problem-solving theory.

(3) the framework for action changes over time and a principal goal of critical theory is to understand these changes;

(4) this framework has the form of an historical structure, a particular combination of thought patterns, material conditions and human institutions which has a certain coherence among its elements.

(5) the framework or structure within which action takes place is to be viewed, not from the top in terms of the requisites for its equilibrium or reproduction (which would quickly lead back to problem-solving), but rather from the bottom or from outside in terms of the conflicts which arise within it and open the possibility of its transformation.

Frameworks for Action: Historical Structures

A framework for action or a historical structure refers to a particular configuration of forces. Three categories of forces interact in a structure: material capabilities, ideas and institutions.

Figure 1

Material capabilities can be productive or destructive. In their dynamic form, they exist as technological and organisational capabilities and in their accumulated forms, they exist as natural resources which technology can transform.

Ideas can consist of “intersubjective meanings” i.e., “shared notions of the nature of social relations which tend to perpetuate habits and expectations of behaviour”. Ideas can also consist of “collective images”, i.e., “differing views as to both the nature and the legitimacy of prevailing power relations”.

It is the clash of rival collective images which provide the potential for alternative paths of development that will challenge the relatively enduring character of intersubjective meanings.

Institutions are particular mixtures of ideas and material capabilities which influence their own further development. Institutionalisation stabilises and perpetuates a particular order.

Historical structures represent “limited totalities” i.e., “[they do] not represent the whole world but rather a particular sphere of human activity in its historically located totality”. For this discussion, the method of historical structures is applied to “three levels or spheres of activity: (a) the organisation of production, more particularly with regard to the social forces engendered by the production process: (b) forms of state as derived from a study of state/society complexes; and (c) world orders , i.e. the particular configurations of forces which successively define the problematic of war or peace for the ensemble of states”.

These three levels are interrelated. Changes in the organisation of production engender new social forces (to recast Carr’s argument, “the incorporation of industrial workers”) that alter the structure of states (“economic nationalism and imperialism”) which further helps determine the world order (“fragmentation of the world economy”). Transnational social forces affect the forms which states take. Forms of state also affect the development of social forces.

Hegemony and World Orders

How do we make sense of these reciprocal relationships in the current historical time?

Neo-realism reduces states and by extension the world order to a configuration of material forces. States are undifferentiated and the normative elements of world order are ignored.

Robert Keohane, in his theory of hegemonic stability, introduces “precise and well-obeyed” norms enforced by a hegemon as determining components of a hegemonic world order. The pax britannica of the mid-Nineteenth century and the pax americana of the post-war period are clear illustrations of this theory.

A third way is to view the world order as a coherent configuration of material power, the prevalent norms and a set of institutions which administer the order.

Dominance by a powerful state may be a necessary but not a sufficient condition of hegemony.

The marriage of power, ideas and institutions as explanatory factors of world order maps well to the historical stages of pax britannica and pax americana. The former comprised British naval supremacy, liberal economics and the ideological separation of politics from economics. The latter comprised American military might, liberalism embodied in the Bretton‑Woods system and the proliferation of formal international institutions.

Social Forces, Hegemony and Imperialism

If the world order is a fit between power, ideas and institutions, a theory is required that would explain how this fit comes about and why it comes apart when it does. The contention here is that such fitting together and coming apart can be explained by social forces shaped by production relations.

Social forces are not limited within but transcend state boundaries. The world order can be represented as a configuration of interacting social forces. The role of the state is that of an autonomous intermediary with social forces, and not material capability, constituting the bases of power. This perspective may be called the political economy perspective of the world. It explains the structural characteristics of the world order, its origins, growth, and demise, in terms of the interrelationships of the three levels structures, i.e., social forces, forms of state and world orders (see above, Figure 2).

The theoretical section of the paper, and with it, my interest, ends here.

The rest of the section maps the foregoing insight into the basis and demise of  pax britannica along with the various stages of imperialism that came after: liberal imperialism, colonial  imperialism, and the imperial state system.

“Since the practical issue at the present is whether or not the pax americana has irretrievably come apart and if so what may replace it”, answer two specific questions: “(1) what are the mechanisms for maintaining hegemony in this particular historical structure? and (2) what social forces and/or forms of state have been generated within it which could oppose and ultimately bring about a transformation of the structure?”.

The internationalisation of the state and the institutionalisation of hegemony (both through the Bretton-Woods system) is offered as a partial answer to the first. Supplementing this is the integration of production processes on a transnational scale which, “plays the formative role in relation to the structure of states”. At present, it is “international production is mobilising social forces, and it is through  these forces that its major political consequences vis-a-vis the nature of states and future world orders may be anticipated”.

Concerning the second question, three possible outcomes are offered. First, a new hegemony being based upon the global structure of social power generated by the internationalising of production. Second, a non-hegemonic world structure of conflicting power centres through the ascendancy in several core countries of neo-mercantilist coalitions. And third, the development of a counter-hegemony based on a Third World coalition against core country dominance and aiming towards the autonomous development of peripheral countries and the termination of the core-peripheral relationship.

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Problem Solving: Meaning, Theory, and Strategies

Finding answers to difficulties that arise in daily life is referred to as problem−solving in psychology. These issues typically have context- or situation−specific solutions. Issue discovery and problem shaping, where the problem is identified and streamlined, are the first steps in the process. The following phase is to come up with and assess potential solutions. Finally, a solution is decided upon and will be tested. Problems have a solution that must be attained, and how you get there depends on your problem−solving coping mechanisms and analytical methods as well as your problem orientation.

examples of problem solving theories

What is Problem Solving?

Solving problems is a common aspect of most undertakings since it involves overcoming hurdles in order to accomplish a goal. From straightforward domestic difficulties, like how to switch on an appliance, to intricate problems in the commercial and technical worlds, there are many problems that need to be solved in our day−to−day life.

Theory of Problem Solving

When it comes to problem-solving, solutions need enough tools and information to get the job done. Undefined and well-defined issues fall into two distinct categories, and each is dealt with using a different strategy. Unlike poorly defined issues, which lack clear end objectives and expected solutions, well-defined problems do. More early planning is possible with well-defined problems than with poorly-defined ones. Sometimes dealing with pragmatics, or how context affects meaning, and semantics, or how the problem is interpreted, is necessary to solve a problem. The secret to fixing an issue is being able to see what the objective of the situation is and what guidelines may be used. Sometimes solving the issue calls for using abstract reasoning or coming up with a unique solution.

Most of the time, experts like lawyers, surgeons, and consultants tackle problems that require technical expertise and knowledge beyond what is generally acceptable. The more pervasive and uncomfortable the problem, the greater the possibility of building a scalable solution. This is how many organizations have discovered lucrative markets. Engineering, business, health, math, computer science, philosophy, and social organization are a few of the numerous specialized problem-solving strategies and methodologies.

Psychology and cognitive sciences investigate how people think through, analyze, and solve issues. In addition, a lot of studies have been done on the psychological barriers that inhibit people from solving problems− Confirmation bias, mental set, and functional fixity are obstacles to problem-solving. The "problem-solving cycle" is a series of actions for overcoming challenges in accomplishing a goal.

Common processes in this cycle include identifying the issue, defining it, coming up with a plan of attack, gathering the information and materials at hand, tracking the development, and assessing the efficacy of the solution. After an issue is solved, another one typically surfaces, and the cycle repeats.

Insight is the spontaneous 'aha' solution to a dilemma or the emergence of a new notion to clarify a difficult circumstance. The answers obtained via insight are frequently more precise than those obtained through a step−by−step study. The ability to choose effective actions at various phases of the problem-solving cycle is necessary for a speedy solution process. There is no agreed-upon definition of an insight issue, unlike the formal definition of a moving problem provided by Newell and Simon.

Strategies of Problem Solving

A plan of action adopted to find a solution is known as a problem-solving strategy. Different strategies are accompanied by various action plans, and the trial-and-error method is one popular way, for instance.

Trial and Error Method − Trial and error is the process of attempting several remedies until the issue is resolved. When employing trial and error, you would keep attempting various fixes until your problem was fixed. Even though trial and error is not always the most time-efficient method, it is nonetheless frequently employed.

examples of problem solving theories

Algorithm − An algorithm is a different kind of approach. An algorithm is a method for solving problems that gives you detailed directions on how to get the desired result. It may be compared to a recipe with very specific directions that always provide the same outcome. We regularly employ algorithms in daily life, particularly in computer science. Search engines like Google utilize algorithms to determine which items will come first in your list of results when you conduct an Internet search. Facebook also utilizes algorithms to choose which content to show in your newsfeed.

Heuristic − A heuristic is a different kind of approach to resolving issues. A heuristic is a generic framework for problem-solving, unlike an algorithm, which must be followed precisely to obtain the desired outcome. These might be viewed as problem-solving techniques that exploit mental shortcuts. A heuristic is what you may call a "rule of thumb." Such a rule spares the decision-maker time and effort, but despite its time-saving benefits, it is not necessarily the most effective way to reach a logical conclusion. Different heuristics are employed in various contexts, but the inclination to employ a heuristic arises when one of the five requirements is satisfied.

Hypothesis testing − A technique used in experiments called hypothesis testing involves making an assumption about what would occur in response to manipulating an independent variable, then analysing the consequences of the manipulation and comparing them to the initial hypothesis.

Means-end Analysis − Choosing and examining a course of action through a succession of smaller stages to achieve a goal is known as a means−ends analysis. The Tower of Hanoi paradigm may be used as a means-end analysis example.

Brainstorming − Brainstorming is the process of gathering and evaluating many potential ideas, particularly among a group of individuals, in order to integrate and refine them until an ideal answer is found.

There are several approaches to problem−solving. Common techniques include heuristics, algorithms, and trial−and−error. A huge, complex challenge is frequently broken down into smaller phases that may be completed independently and lead to an overall solution. A conceptual set, functional fixedness, and numerous biases that might impair decision−making are obstacles to problem−solving.

Mukesh Kumar


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Problem-Solving in Cognitive Psychology


Cognitive skills that a person acquires throughout one’s life shape a personal background and allow interacting with other people through the experience of communication to overcome various barriers. Problem-solving is valuable attainment, and cognitive psychology is the industry that studies this phenomenon from the perspective of drivers and incentives to make decisions in favor of specific actions or ideas.

From a neurological perspective, problem-solving is characterized by the nature of the human desire to fill the space and identify the best methods to overcome specific barriers. At the same time, this skill may be applied to other areas where the experience gained is a crucial self-determining factor, for instance, differential or educational psychology. The problem-solving attainment is of high importance from the perspective of gaining individual adaptive and social habits. The abilities to analyze and make the right decision based on the proposed circumstances are the skills that distinguish the human species from most other living beings.

Neurological Foundations and Processes Related to Problem-Solving

Problem-solving is an active neurological process that occurs at the initiative of a person oneself and does not belong to the category of automatic and reflex properties. Any task requiring a solution is associated with the work of various cognitive skills that need to be applied to solve an individual problem (“Cognitive psychology,” 2020). This form of behavior is goal-directed and serves as a tool for performing specific actions but not as a ready-made set of behavioral reflexes (“Cognitive psychology,” 2020).

The abilities to find flexible solutions, adapt to the current conditions, divide tasks in accordance with the spectrum of their significance, assess specific actions or solutions adequately, and other attainments shape the neurological background of problem-solving. Brace (2014) lists various problem-solving strategies and notes that building a sequence of actions in a specific order to achieve the desired goal is evidence of cognitive development, which varies depending on complexity. Thus, the effectiveness of problem-solving may depend on the criteria of the complexity of a particular issue and the tools available to overcome it.

The ability to control cognitive functions to direct them towards solving a specific problem is a skill that is established from an early age. As one grows older and acquires new cognitive skills, the complexity of potentially solvable problems increases. A person learns to combine existing knowledge, for instance, in the context of problem-solving by analogy, which Brace (2014) describes as a process related to experience rather than knowledge. As Kolbert (2017) argues, collaborative groups, play a significant role in this process and stimulate solving different problems through the application of previously learned attainments. In this regard, one can conclude about the neurological connection between problem-solving and social adaptation.

Filling the space that has arisen due to the urgent need to overcome a specific obstacle does not carry unconditioned reflexes and is based on a conscious choice to search for optimal solutions. When a person analyzes, draws analogies, divides tasks into subtasks, and performs other actions related to problem-solving, cognitive skills are activated (“Cognitive psychology,” 2020). Unwillingness to deviate from the intended plan characterizes the innate ability to overcome barriers to achieve the desired goal. A baby who crawls towards one’s toy despite obstacles on the floor does this consciously. Thus, problem-solving may be characterized not only as a cognitive process that develops as people grow older and socialize but also as an integral and conscious personality trait.

Criticism of the Problem-Solving Theory

Despite the fact that problem-solving is the subject of cognitive psychology research and a recognized concept, certain aspects of this theory are questioned due to the similarity with other psychological models. In particular, Servant-Miklos (2019) argues that problem-solving and knowledge acquisition are processes that have much in common and are often discussed as related phenomena. As a result, contradictions between each of these theories arise. This context is based on the understanding of what knowledge is since the ability to use accumulated cognitive skills may be interpreted from the perspectives of both intelligence and a set of problem-solving attainments.

According to Servant-Miklos (2019), “both approaches are the product of the Cognitive Revolution in psychology,” but their differences presuppose the ability to use knowledge (p. 622). As a justification, the author draws attention to the generation of the late 20th century and notes that the emergence of computer technology has eliminated the urgent need to utilize knowledge for problem-solving (Servant-Miklos, 2019). Therefore, this interpretation of the theoretical foundations is the argument in favor of the approach in which problem-solving skills in cognitive psychology prevail over knowledge acquisition.

At the same time, despite conflicting positions regarding problem-solving and knowledge acquisition, evaluating these concepts from a critical perspective allows finding the relationship between them. Lieto et al. (2019) consider problem-solving through the prism of the goal-directed approach when the final task is the main one to achieve through overcoming appropriate obstacles. In this regard, the researchers consider this process “is based on the availability of novel, additional, knowledge that can be then used to select novel sub-goals or novel operations” (Lieto et al., 2019, p. 305).

In other words, an algorithm that involves searching for effective solutions and methods to overcome specific problems is inextricably linked with the acquisition of new knowledge that will subsequently be transformed into experience. According to Servant-Miklos (2019), the psychology of learning is built on the constant processing of information that comes through communication and personal drive to overcome barriers. The better the information studied, the higher the likelihood that the problem-solving process will be faster and more successful. Therefore, despite the criticism and differentiation of the concepts of problem-solving and knowledge acquisition, these two models are rather interrelated than separated.

Application of Problem-Solving to Other Fields

Problem-solving is a concept that finds its application not only in cognitive psychology but also in other fields. For instance, Xiong and Proctor (2018) state that this model fits into the area of educational psychology.

This is an approach that allows building the educational process based on the search for evidence and justification. In modern pedagogical practice, this technique is widely used because the trend to stimulate student activity through the development of critical thinking involves the ability to solve various problems on one’s own. Kovacs and Conway (2019), in turn, draw attention to differential psychology as the area in which problem-solving can be actively applied. In this field, the search for arguments for obtaining reasonable alternative conclusions shapes the basis of the cognitive process. As a result, the more successful an individual utilizes problem-solving skills, the higher the likelihood of the objective assessment of specific phenomena or challenges to overcome.

Problem-solving, as a methodological concept, is used not only in various branches of psychology but also in other areas where the assessment of cognitive processes is indirect. For instance, Kovacs and Conway (2019) analyze this approach for practical purposes and provide an example of recruiting tests used in hiring employees. Job applicants, as a rule, are asked to answer questions related to the assessment of individual situations, and the use of critical thinking skills to apply problem-solving attainments is a common approach.

Another area in which this concept is applied is computer technology. As Xiong and Proctor (2018) note, modern AI algorithms are built due to the methods that aim to train AI to overcome various problems through problem-solving. Advances in this area may prove that acquired information accumulated through knowledge is an objective and effective methodology to overcome barriers. Computers combine and synthesize different data, thereby transforming them into efficient problem-solving algorithms. Therefore, this concept finds its application in various fields as a necessary and relevant technique.

Problem-solving is a subject of study not only in cognitive psychology but also in other areas since this concept characterizes the individual from different perspectives and distinguishes people from other living beings. Applying critical thinking and combining experience with knowledge shape the basis of this model. Despite the existing criticism, the separation of problem-solving from knowledge acquisition is irrelevant because these theories are interrelated.

Utilizing appropriate skills in computer technology confirms that the collection and accumulation of valuable information is the core of the development of problem-solving skills. Therefore, further research on this topic can be devoted to a deeper analysis of such attainments in the technology industry, in particular, artificial intelligence, to identify basic algorithms and compare them with those in humans.

Brace, N. (2014). Thinking and problem-solving. In D. Groome (Ed.), An introduction to cognitive psychology: Processes and disorders (3 rd ed., pp. 241-271). Psychology Press.

Cognitive psychology and cognitive neuroscience/reasoning and decision making . (2020). WikiBooks. Web.

Kolbert, E. (2017). Why facts don’t change our minds . The New Yorker . Web.

Kovacs, K., & Conway, A. R. (2019). A unified cognitive/differential approach to human intelligence: Implications for IQ testing. Journal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition , 8 (3), 255-272. Web.

Lieto, A., Perrone, F., Pozzato, G. L., & Chiodino, E. (2019). Beyond subgoaling: A dynamic knowledge generation framework for creative problem solving in cognitive architectures . Cognitive Systems Research , 58 , 305-316. Web.

Servant-Miklos, V. F. (2019). Problem solving skills versus knowledge acquisition: The historical dispute that split problem-based learning into two camps . Advances in Health Sciences Education , 24 (3), 619-635. Web.

Xiong, A., & Proctor, R. W. (2018). Information processing: The language and analytical tools for cognitive psychology in the information age. Frontiers in Psychology , 9 , 1270. Web.

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Problem Solving – Definition, Process, and Examples

Home > Problem Solving – Definition, Process, and Examples

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Understanding Problem Solving

Problem solving is a way of identifying and finding effective solutions to overcome the problems at hand. Basically, this ability is related to various other abilities such as listening, analyzing, researching, creativity, communication, teamwork and decision making skills.

According to Oemar Hamalik, the meaning of problem solving is a mental and intellectual process in finding problems. Then solve problems based on accurate data and information, so as to be able to draw conclusions carefully and quickly. This, in fact, what the main goal of solving this problem is.

Problem Solving Process

According to the understanding of problem solving, this ability is related to various skills ranging from listening, analyzing, researching, creativity, communication, teamwork and decision making. There are various approaches that can be taken to solve problems, but in general there are four basic stages of problem solving.

Define Problem

Defining the problem does not mean only looking at the visible symptoms, but also analyzing the real key to the problem. There are many things that become the background and influence of a problem. So at this stage it is important to look at the problem from various perspectives.

Understand that it must be resolved immediately if problems arise, minimizing bias that may arise. Therefore, someone must provide supporting information so that the problem identification process can run more smoothly.

Identification of problems

Identification of the problem and the information that has been collected, this problem solving process is very important. The goal is to divide the important aspects to be separated, in addition so as not to bring up mixed elements. This method has proven to be effective because it creates a more organized process so that the discovery of solutions becomes faster.

In doing this, creativity and the ability to think critically and logically are needed, you can compare alternatives and then consider the various possibilities that exist. This stage is also known as developing alternative solutions.

Determine the Best Solution

The purpose of problem solving is to find the best solution to a problem, because after thinking about the available alternatives. Trying to determine which solution is the most appropriate by considering which solution will be implemented and not have the potential to cause other problems.

Going through this stage may take longer, because indeed finding several solutions to problems that arise is exhausting. It is necessary to look at both sides of each solution in order to get the best.

Do an Evaluation

Conducting evaluation is the most decisive stage of the problem solving process, in this case a person is required to develop a strategy, distribute it to team members and follow up on the solutions that have been decided. In addition, it must also collect input from various parties involved, then evaluate the long-term results of implementing the solution.

Example of Problem Solving

problem solving

An example of this problem-solving ability appears most often in job interviews, where candidates are usually asked to complete several scenario-based questions that can be answered such as how to handle situations in the past. Then how to manage problems that arise in the following work examples of questions.

Applicants are asked to schedule a project that must be completed quickly, but is unable to complete the job. Because it requires information from other colleagues who cannot be contacted at this time, how can applicants deal with and solve this problem.

The answer is reassessing from the situation whether there are other elements of the project that are can be done until the co-workers return. If there is, you can work on it first, if not, you should try to contact the person concerned or another employee in the office who can help.

To be able to solve problems at work, for example, a lot of knowledge is needed because it is one way to improve problem solving abilities. Expanding technical knowledge in the field of work involved, strong knowledge certainly makes the problems at hand easier.

This is a brief explanation of what problem solving is, the process it takes and examples in life. At Sampoerna University, students will learn how to face global challenges and one of them has the best problem solving understanding in dealing with every situation.

Sampoerna University is more than just a campus — it is a learning community that prepares students to succeed both academically and professionally. Here, students will not only learn and acquire academic skills—they will be challenged to think, do, and grow for the better. With existing programmes, students are guaranteed to have better skills and credentials that will open the doors to national or international careers once they graduate.

For more information about Sampoerna University , click on the following link.

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Head of Information Systems Study Program

Master of Computer Science, University of Wollongong

– Mobile Applications Development – Software for Engineers – Computer Networks and Data Communications – Principles of Information System – Computer Programming for Engineering Applications – Operating Systems

Member of IEEE, APTIKOM, and ADI (Indonesia Lecturer Association).

Served as session chair in an international conference.

Certified International of Internal Quality Audit, LSP Quantum HRM International, 2022

examples of problem solving theories

Maryam Mursadi, S.Sos, M.Pd

English Education Lecturer

Master Degree: Inclusive and Special Needs Education, UPI Bandung

Individual Differences

Arnaldo Purba, Ph.D.

Ph.D in Commerce, the Australian National University

Financial Statement Analysis International Taxation Public Sector Accounting Individual and Corporate Tax II

1. Best Research Interactive Session award. Awarded at the 2017 Accounting and Finance Association of Australia and New Zealand (AFAANZ) Conference. Hilton Adelaide, Adelaide – Australia, 2-4 July 2017.

2. People’s Choice award. Awarded at the College of Business and Economics, The Australian National University Three Minute Thesis (3MT) 2017 Competition. Alan Barton Forum, CBE ANU, Canberra, Australia, 14 August 2017.

3. Best Doctoral Paper at the 30th Australasian Tax Teachers’ Association (ATTA) Conference. Monash University, Department of Business Law and Taxation, Melbourne – Australia, 17-19 January 2018.

4. Top 10 Paper at the 2022 Accounting Scientific Conference-Institute of Indonesia Chartered Accountants (Konferensi Ilmiah Akuntansi/ KIA IX), 23-24 March 2022.

Dyan Wahyuning Praharwati, M.Pd.

General Education Lecturer

Master Degree: Pendidikan Bahasa Indonesia, Malang State University

Bahasa Indonesia

 Edah Runengsih M.Pd., Ph.D

Ph.D in entreprenurship at University Malaysia Sabah, Malaysia.

Pendidikan Kewarganegaraan Pendidikan Pancasila

Dr. Christy Dwita Mariana, S.T., M.M.

Management Lecturer

Doctorate Degree: Ph.D in Finance and Banking Management, Universitas Indonesia

-Real Estate Finance and Investment -Introduction to Finance

Best, Fastest, Youngest, and Best Publication Graduate of Doctoral Degree in Program Pascasarjana Ilmu Manajemen Fakultas Ekonomi dan Bisnis Universitas Indonesia (PPIM FEB UI) in 2021

Research team member of Stablecoins research funded by Bank Indonesia (Research Grant Bank Indonesia 2021)

1 of 5 global Post-Doctoral Research Fellow in Departemen Manajemen FEB UI 2022-2024

An author of a book entitled “CRYPTOCURRENCY: TEROBOSAN ATAU ANCAMAN ATAS TATANAN FINANSIAL UMUM?” and a book chapter in “Handbook of Research on Cybersecurity Issues and Challenges for Business and FinTech Applications” published by IGI Global

Former trainer and facilitator for financial management subjects at PPM Manajemen and PT. Strategi Transforma Infiniti

Dr. Li. Edi Ramawijaya Putra, S.Pd, M. Pd

Doctor of Applied Linguistics in English Atma Jaya Catholic University of Indonesia

Foundation of Teaching and Learning Introduction to the Study of Language

examples of problem solving theories

Arkhadi Pustaka, ST., M.Pd.

Master of Education, Universitas Negeri Yogyakarta

Educational Technology,

Advanced Educational Technology

Virtual Manipulatives Developer for Gernas Tastaka (National Movement for Innumeracy Eradication)

examples of problem solving theories

Sri Susilawati Islam, ST., MT.

Industrial Engineering Lecturer

Master’s Degree: Institut Teknologi Bandung

– Introduction to Engineering – Introduction to System & Industrial Engineering – Engineering Economy – Integrated Manufacturing System – Engineering Experimental Design – Industrial Engineering Colloquium

Funded by Dikti in Penelitian Dosen Pemula Program

Best presenter paper in International Conference

examples of problem solving theories

Erwin Dipo, BFA., M.S.

Visual Communication Design Lecturer

Master’s Degree: (Science) George Washington University

examples of problem solving theories

Dr. Ida Ayu Nyoman Titin Trisnadewi, S.T., M.T.

Mechanical Engineering Lecturer

Doctoral Degree: (Mechanical engineering) University of Indonesia

examples of problem solving theories

Budi Kurniawan, S.E., MA., M.Ak.

Master’s Degree: (Art) Wolverhampton University Master’s Degree: (Accounting) University of Indonesia

examples of problem solving theories

Atyanto Edhie Purwanto, S.Ak., M.M.

Master’s Degree: (Management) Gadjah Mada University

examples of problem solving theories

Bun Sucento, S.E., M.B.A.

Master’s Degree: (Management) The University of Dallas Master’s Degree: (Business Administration) Pittsburg State University

examples of problem solving theories

Carolina Sari, S.Ak., M.Ak.

Master’s Degree: (Accounting Science) University of Indonesia

examples of problem solving theories

Faris Windiarti, S.Pd., M.S.Ak.

examples of problem solving theories

Luciana Haryono, S.E., M.M., M.Ak.

Master’s Degree: (Management) Prasetiya Mulya University Master’s Degree: (Accounting) University of Indonesia

examples of problem solving theories

Dr. Widya Agustina Siregar, S.H., M.H.

Doctorate Degree: (Law) Padjadjaran University

examples of problem solving theories

Patricia Jesica Irene, S.E., M.A.

Master’s Degree: (International Business) The University of Melbourne

examples of problem solving theories

Hatim Gazali, M.A

Master’s Degree : UGM – Centre for Religious and Cross Cultural studies

Pendidikan Pancasila

Pendidikan Kewarganegaraan

examples of problem solving theories

Khoirul Anam, M.A

Center for Religious and Cross-cultural Stuedies, Gadjah Mada Univrsity

World Religions

Special Staff for Mabes Polri, Densus 88, and BNPT for Radicalism and Terrorism issues.

examples of problem solving theories

Wulan Nurul Kamilah, S.Pd., M.Si.

Master’s Degree: Master of Science in Mathematics (Statistics), Institut Teknologi Bandung, Indonesia

examples of problem solving theories

Dr. Ilham Prasetyo

Doctoral (Dr.) degree in Physics, University of Indonesia, Indonesia

– General Physics with Calculus 1 – General Physics with Calculus 1 Lab – General Physics with Calculus 2 – Introduction to Optics and Dynamics – General Physics with Calculus 2 Lab

Some papers in reputable international scientific journals, e.g. General Relativity and Gravitation, Journal of Cosmology and Astroparticle Physics, Nuclear Physics B, Physical Review D, and The European Physical Journal C

examples of problem solving theories

Lukman Baihaqi Alfakihuddin, M.Sc

Master Degree in Environmental Resource Management, Florida Institute of Technology, Florida, USA

-Introduction to Environmental Science -General Biology -General Biology Lab -Environmental Ethics -Microbe and Society -Business Ethic and Sustainability

USAID Scholarship Awardee, 2015

Climate Cornell Fellowship Awardee,2019

Atlas Corps Scholar, 2020

Publishing academic papers in National & International Journals, 2022

examples of problem solving theories

Caesilia Ika Widanti, S.Psi., M.Psi., Psikologi.

Head of Psychology Study Program

Magister of Educational Psychology, University of Indonesia, Jakarta

-Educational Psychology -General Psychology -Affective Education in 21st Century -Social Emotional Learning


Team member of Program Profesi Guru (Professional Development Program) curriculum development, Directorate General of Teachers and Education Personnel, Ministry of Education, Culture, Research and Technology (Kemendikbudristek, Indonesia)

Team member of Program Guru Penggerak Curriculum Development, Directorate General of Teachers and Education Personnel, Ministry of Education, Culture, Research and Technology (Kemendikbudristek, Indonesia)

Active involvement in raising Mental Health Awareness with various organizations and institutions.

Involve in Career Developmental Coaching Program to serve adolescence in Indonesia

examples of problem solving theories

Tika Endah Lestari, M.Si

Acting Dean of Faculty of Arts and Science

Master Degree (M.Si) in Mathematics (Research Group Statistics), Institut Teknologi Bandung (ITB), Indonesia

-Calculus and Analytical Geometry I – Calculus and Analytical Geometry II – Calculus and Analytical Geometry III – Statistics -Mathematical Foundation of Industrial Engineering -Introduction to Engineering Probability and Statistics -Quality Control and Six Sigma

Active involvement in mathematics and Industrial engineering research activities with some academic articles published in international journals indexed by Scopus.

Logical operations certified in supply chain associate

examples of problem solving theories

Dr. Donny Citra Lesmana, S.Si., M.Fin.Math.

Mathematics Education Lecturer

Ph.D in Mathematics, The University of Western Australia, Australia

College Algebra Precalculus Algebra and Trigonometry Calculus and Analytical Geometry I Calculus for Business and Social Sciences

Research Grant from Kementerian Pertanian to do Feasibility Study of Livestock Insurance in Indonesia

AusAID Scholarship Awardee for Postgraduate Study

READI Project Awardee for Actuarial Science Teaching Mentorship in University of Waterloo, Canada

Directorate General of Higher Education’s Research Grant

examples of problem solving theories

Dr. Meiliasari, S.Pd., M.Sc.

Doctor of philosophy, Mathematics Education, Deakin University

History of Mathematics

examples of problem solving theories

Chrisna Bhuana Martinovianto, M.Hum

Master’s degree: Linguistics, University of Indonesia

Discourse Analysis & Sociolinguistics;

Writing Convention & Grammar Analysis

Linguistics enthusiasts, translator, interpreter, proofreader.

examples of problem solving theories

Udi Samanhudi, PhD

PhD in TESOL and Applied Linguistics, Queen’s Univesity Belfast, UK

Current Issues in ELT

Educational Reserach Method

Lead Researcher in Indonesia in International Reserach Project in the area of Language, Interculturality and Technology in Collaboration with researchers from ten different countries i.e., UK, China, Moroco, Brazil, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Ukraine funded by British Council;

The fastest and doctorate graduate with impact- doctoral in TESOL, Queen’s University, Belfast, UK;

Keynote speaker in international seminar in TESOL and Applied Linguitsics;

Book Writer (i.e., Teaching as Public Speaking; Current Issues in ELT; Critical Reading and Writing);

Awardee LPDP Scholarship, 2016-2020

examples of problem solving theories

Dhitta Puti Sarasvati R., M.Ed

Master’s Degree: Mathematics Education, University of Bristol, UK

Foundation of Teaching & Learning, Mathematics Curriculum & Material Development, Teaching & Learning Mathematics 1, Educational Research Methods 1, Classroom Language Strategies, Extended College Algebra, College Algebra, Pre-Calculus, Calculus 1, Calculus 2

– Chief of the Honorary Board of Ikatan Guru Indonesia (IGI)

Founder and Content Coordinator of Gerakan Nasional Pemberantasan Buta Matematika (Gernas Tastaka) & Gerakan Nasional Pemberantasan Buta Membaca (Gernas Tastaba) (2018 – present).

Designed and facilitated trainings for the Commision for eradicating Corruption (Komisi Pemberantasan Korupsi) about the System of Education in Indonesia as Basis for Designing Programs About Anti-Corruption in Schools (2021).

With Ibu Nisa Felicia, Co-authored of the Indonesian Case Study for the UNESCO Global Monitoring Report (GMR) 2017.

Published several books related with education. In 2022 published the book “Guru Posting Berdiri, Murid Update Berlari”, and published a book chapter in “Memikirkan Kembali Arah Pendidikan indonesia: Kritik, Potensi, dan Rekomendasi”.

examples of problem solving theories

Sugiri Aryanto, M.Si.

Master of Science, Institut Teknologi Bandung

Differential Equations,

Discrete Mathematics,

Linear Algebra,

Real Analysis.

Silver medal in National Mathematics Olympiad (2011 and 2012)

Trainer for West Java Mathematics Olympiad team as prepation for junior national olympiad (2017)

Active involvement in community services : teaching Mathematics for Competition in various schools in Indonesia

examples of problem solving theories

Anissa Pane, M.A.

Master’s Degree: University of South Wales

– EAP Speaking/Listening IV – EAP Grammar and Writing IV – EAP Reading IV

Active involvement in community services: teaching intensive English courses at schools and non-profit communities

A speaker in Thursday English Workshop ‘Mastering the Art of Instagram Caption’, Sampoerna University

An author of a book titled ‘How Far We Go: Education and Social Mobility of Papuan and West Papuan Students in Jakarta’

An author of an article titled ‘Missing the Sun?’ in a book titled ‘The Notes of UNIFIERS’

An author of ‘Terantuk Resam’, awarded as Top 100 national poems by Literasi Bangsa

examples of problem solving theories

Deshinta P.A.D Argaswari, M. Pd.

Master of Education in Mathematics Education, Universitas Sebelas Maret, Indonesia

College Algebra Precalculus Algebra and Trigonometry Calculus and Analytical Geometry I Calculus for Business and Social Sciences Microteaching Planning Assessment and Evaluation

Active involvement in the research and discussion about Mathematics, Geometry, and Teaching Mathematics especially preparing the pre-service teaching in Field Teaching Experience.

Invited speaker for the Webinar: Interactive Teaching During Pandemic conducted by DIKTI, and any other education community.

examples of problem solving theories

Faradillah Hariani, M.Si Mathematical Modelling, University of Birmingham, United Kingdom, 2015

College Algebra Calculus and Analytical Geometry I Calculus and Analytical Geometry II Calculus and Analytical Geometry III Linear Programming Linear Algebra

Active involvement in the research and Community services about Mathematics Education and Educational Technology in Mathematics

Invited speaker for the Kemdikbud Webinar: Interactive Teaching During Pandemic

uthor for Kemdikbud Book entitled “Pendidikan Masa Pandemi: Adaptasi dan Transformasi Pembelajaran”

Publication Grant Recipients from SEAMEO Reginal Centre for QITEP in Mathematics

Best Presenter for Research (SU Internal Grant) for AY period 2019 – 2020 and 2020 – 2021

examples of problem solving theories

Maria Niayu Risma Novianti, M.A.

English Language Lecturer

M.A in American Studies, Universitas Gadjah Mada, Indonesia, 2015

Composition I Composition II Introduction to Literature

Published papers in accredited national journals in the literature area.

Facilitator in Intensive and Extensive Reading Workshop held by IERA (Indonesia Extensive Reading Association) and The Ministry of Education, Culture, Research, and Technology 2021

examples of problem solving theories

Julia Frances Lonan, B.A, M.A

English Language Education Lecturer

Master of Arts, Emerson College Boston, USA

Introduction to Speech Communication Technical Writing Communication in the Work Force

Active involvement in Community Service with Mount Carmel Community

Serve as independent consultant in Business Communication to various small businesses

examples of problem solving theories

Susilowaty, M.A

Master’s Degree: Southern Illinois University Carbondale, Illinois, U.S.A

– Teaching English as a Foreign Language – Planning Assessment and Evaluation – Micro Teaching – Classroom Language Strategies – English for Young Learner

Team member of Program Profesi Guru (Professional Development Program) curriculum developent, Directorate General of Teachers and Education Personnel, Ministry of Education, Culture, Research and Technology (Indonesia)

Committee member of Indonesian Extensive Reading Association (IERA)

Team member of Gerakan Nasional Beranta Buta Membaca (Gernastastaba) –> national movement to eradicate illiteracy

The best paper awardee on “A Story of Authentic Assessment Application in TEYL Class”, in the 4th Teaching English to Young Learners (TEYLIN) conference

A chapter writer and editor of a book entitled “The Notes of UNIFIERS (Fun English with Fantastic Teachers)”

examples of problem solving theories

Dr. Vera Syamsi

Ph. D. in Literary Studies, University of Indonesia

Composition I Composition II Introduction to Literature Literacy, Culture & the Development of Critical Readers Literacy & Learning in Content Areas (Multiliteracies) English Language Teaching Methodology

Conducting research on Critical Thinking & Cultural Studies

Publishing academic paper in National & International Journals

Speaking in various national & international conferences on education and Cultural Studies

Assessor of Sertifikasi Dosen – The Ministry of Education

Facilitator of Intensive – Extensive Reading Strategies

examples of problem solving theories

Zulfiya Ismailova, M.A

Head of English for Academic Purposes

Master’s Degree: California State University, Fresno

EAP Advanced Reading,

EAP Composition I,

EAP Composition II,

Compositon I.

examples of problem solving theories

Desyarti Safarini TLS, M. Si.

Head of Mathematics Education Study Program

Master of Science in Applied Mathematics, Bogor Agricultural Institute (IPB), Indonesia

– Calculus and Analytical Geometry I – Integral Calculus – Derivative Calculus – Sequence and Series of a Function – Differential Equations – Problem Solving and Project Based Learning in Mathematics – Linear Programming

LPDP Scholarship Awardee (2019)

Active involvement in mathematics education and educational technology research activities.

as a national facilitator for Active Learning in Higher Education (ALIHE-DBE 2)

active involvement as invited facilitator in teacher training programs hosted by SEAMEO Regional Centre for QITEP in Mathematics, CASIO Education, Microsoft Education, and Pearson.

SEAMEO Regional Centre for QITEP in Mathematics-Module writer: “Problem-Solving in Mathematics”

USAID SMART-LAB- Module writer for secondary mathematics projects

examples of problem solving theories

Dr. C.I.W. Eka Budiartha, M.A

Head of English Language Education Program

Ph. D. in Applied Linguistics, Atma Jaya University, Indonesia

Composition I,

Introduction to Study of Language,

Language Acquisition and Development,

Advanced English Skills,

English for Specific Purposes,

Technology in Language Leaerning

Active involvement in research and discussions about Applied Linguitics

University winner of designing an interactive and engaging learning management system

Invited speakers for Applied linguistic, Lexical Knowledge and Technology in Education

Workshop facilitator in Extensive Reading

Presenters in International Forum and Published articles in International journals

examples of problem solving theories

Dr. Soepriyatna

Acting Dean of Faculty of Education

Ph. D. in Linguistics, Atma Jaya University, Indonesia

– Curriculum & Materials Development – Seminar – Introduction to the Study of Language

Active involvement in teacher professional development with various organizations and governmental bodies in Indonesia.

Having served as a speaker/ Key Note Speaker/ Jury in academic forums, competitions organized by various institutions.

An author of a book entitled, “EFL Curriculum and Materials Development”, published by UT.

examples of problem solving theories

Ir. Andry Adiwinarso M. Eng

Management  Lecturer

Master Degree: Engineering Management, Cornell University

Digital Marketing Introductiin to Marketing Introduction to Human Resources Basic Operation Management, Entrepreneurship

examples of problem solving theories

Kenny Fernando, M.S.Ak

Master of Science in Accounting, University of Indonesia, Indonesia

ACCT2304 Intermediate Accounting II ACCT2314Individual and Corporate Tax I ACCT3322 Foundations in Accounting Research ACCT3406 Accounting Information System and Internal Control GBUS1302 Principles of Accounting I GBUS1303 Principles of Accounting II GBUS2304 Managerial Accounting MGMT4329 Using and Managing Information Systems

YSEALI Outbound Project 2022

ASEAN Foundation #eMpoweringYouthsGrantee 2021

YSEALI PFP U.S. Department (America) 2019

The Best Thesis FEB Universitas Indonesia 2018

3 International Conferences (Australia – Indo) 2017

LPDP Awardee, Ministry of Finance RI 2016

Indonesia-China Youth Exchange Program 2015

The Best Student by PT Hewlett-Packard 2015

1st Champion of Accounting Competition 2014

examples of problem solving theories

Tri Wismiarsi, Ph.D

Doctoral Degree From Monash University, Australia

Integrated Marketing Communication Introduction to Marketing Research Methods for Business

examples of problem solving theories

Sentot B. Prayitno, MM

Master Degree from PPM School of Management

Introduction to Marketing Introduction to Business Research Methods for Business Entrepreneurship Project Management Introduction to Finance Real Estate FInance & Investment Business Model Innovation

Having experience more than 10 years in marketing & sales sector especially from FMCG, Banking & Insurance industry.

Pursue PhD degree at local University in Indonesia with major on Marketing.

in progress writing article related with marketing subjects and will published in international & local reputable journal.

examples of problem solving theories

Dr. Muhril Ardiansyah

Economics Lecturer

Ph. D. in Agricultural Economics, Oklahoma State University, USA.

Basic Economic

Issues Principles of Macroeconomics

Introduction To Human Resources

Analytical methods for Business

Economic Strategy for Business Decision

Research Methods for Business

examples of problem solving theories

Christian H. Pangaribuan, M.B.A.

International Relationship Coordinator

Master of Business Administration, University of New Haven, USA.

Research Methods for Business Project Management Basic Operations Management Marketing Analytics Innovation Principles

Active involvement in research with several academic articles published in international journals indexed by Scopus.

examples of problem solving theories

Andrey Hasiholan Pulungan, M.Comm., Ak., CA., CPA (Aust.)

Head of Accounting Study Program

Master of Commerce in Accounting , Australian National University, Australia, 2009

ACCT2301 Intermediate Accounting I ACCT2304 Intermediate Accounting II ACCT3316 Advanced Financial Accounting I ACCT3317 Advanced Financial Accounting II ACCT3210 Accounting Theory GBUS1302 Principles of Accounting I GBUS1303 Principles of Accounting II GBUS1305 Computer Applications GBUS2304 Managerial Accounting

Best paper award of Konferensi Ilmiah Akuntansi IX – 2022

– Publications:

Book – Get To Know Advance Features to Process Business Transactions With Accurate Online, Ultima Teknologi Solusindo, Jakarta – 2022

Book – Akuntansi Keuangan Dasar Berbasis PSAK per Juni 2012 (Buku 1), Mitra Wacana Media, Jakarta – 2013

– International Journal

Akuntansi Keuangan Dasar Berbasis PSAK per Juni 2012 (Buku 1), Mitra Wacana Media, Jakarta

– National Journal

Authentic Leadership and Whistleblowing: The Mediating Roles of Trust and Moral Courage. Jurnal Kajian Akuntansi. Vol. 5 No. 2, Cirebon – 2020

Affective and Normative Commitment as Intervening Variables of the Links between Ethical Leadership, Religiosity, and Fraud, Jurnal Dinamika Akuntansi dan Bisnis vol. 7 no. 2 – 2020 Banda Aceh

examples of problem solving theories

Pananda Pasaribu, Ph.D.

Head of Management Study Program

Ph. D. in Finance, The University of Leeds, United Kingdom

Portfolio Theory and Analysis Real Estate Finance and Investment Introduction to Finance Treasury Management Basic Economic Issues Macroeonomics and Global Institution Policy Research Methodology for Business

Holder of Wakil Manajer Investasi (WMI) license from OJK

examples of problem solving theories

Dr. Wahyoe Soedarmono

Dean of Faculty of Business

Ph. D. Finance and Banking, Univ. De Limoges, France.

Credit and Lending Management Macroeconomics and Global Institutions and Policy Research Methods in Business Treasury Management

HSBC-PSF Program Manager on Curporate Sustainability

Member of Association of Indonesian Private Higher Education Institutions (APTISI)

Scopus H-index for scholarly achievement: 8

examples of problem solving theories

Jonathan Saputra, S.Pd., M.Si.

Master Degree: Matematika, Institut Teknologi Bandung

College Algebra Differential Equations Calculus and Analytical Geometry III Trigonometry Mathematics for Engineering Applications

Sampoerna Foundation Awardee for Bachelor Degree (2009-2013)

LPDP Awardee for Master’s Degree (2016-2018)

examples of problem solving theories

Hani Pranayadati, M.A.

Master Degree: New Media & Digital Culture, Utrecht University

VCDD2335-A Media History VCDD1402-A Narrative Concepts & Storytelling

Executive producer in CNN Indonesia, senior jurnalist and well experienced in TV news programs since 2001

StuNed Scholarship Awardee for master degree

Radio Nederland Training Centre 2017, StuNed Scholarship for short course

Best news program (“Good Morning”) by Indonesian Broadcasting Commision (KPI) in 2017-2018

Special program “Total Solar Eclipse” 2016

Special project Jakarta Anniversary 2022 in Jakarta International Stadium

examples of problem solving theories

Aditiya Harjon, M.Phil

M.Phil in Mechanical Engineering, The University of Melbourne, Australia.

Intermediate Thermodynamics

h-index of 13, total citation 1833 since 2016.

examples of problem solving theories

Rachmat Arsyadi, M. Ds.

Master of Design, Universitas Trisakti, Indonesia.

– Collaborative Design – Origin of Design – Creative narratives: online storytelling – UX/UI – Website Design – Typography Fundamental – Design Thinking & Theory – Final project i (design object) – Final project ii (senior thesis) – Research Design Methodology

For more than 13 years, has helped and involved in art direction of various projects for businesses and companies in mining industry, banking, retails, embassy, and education in the field of desktop publishing, logo design, and branding activation (past clients includes: Armed Red Cross Indonesia, Bank Mandiri, Sharp Indonesia, UK Embassy in Indonesia, GMF AeroAsia, University of Indonesia) – see works here:

Member of Asosiasi Dosen Indonesia (Indonesian Lecturer Association)

Team Leader of Public Relation and Documentation Division, Alumni Association of Inspiring Lecturer Program by Paragon Indonesia

Active involvement in helping small business owners, in collaboration with Jakpreneur ( ), in the field of Graphic Design & Branding

Speaker for a number of workshops held by and

examples of problem solving theories

Arya Harditya Rusmandi, M. A.

M. A. in Digital Media, University of Sussex, United Kingdom.

– 3D for Design – Animation and Motion Graphics – VFX and Compositing – Creative Coding – IoT in New Media – Game Design – Experimental Art and Design – Motion Capture

Best SU Canvas Lecturer 2021/2022

Best Paper at Bandung Creative Movement 2022 Internation Conference

examples of problem solving theories

Santo Tjhin, M. Ds.

– Narrative Concepts and Storytelling – Professional practice portfolio – Creative narratives: online storytelling – Introduction to interactive media – Computer Graphics Design – Typography Fundamental – Color and Material – Final project i (design object) – Final project ii (senior thesis) – Visual Communication and Advertising

Actively involved in the development of professional designers with various organizations and companies in Indonesia.

Member of Asosiasi Dosen Indonesia (Indonesian Lecturer Association).

Has been a speaker/ Key Note Speaker/ Jury in academic forums, and competitions organized by various institutions.

Author of the book entitled, “Digital Imaging with Photo.”, “Image for media.”

Writing in International Journals and National Journals ( Scopus & Sinta) – Reviewer in Reputable journals & conferences.

examples of problem solving theories

Muhammad Rausyan Fikri

Information System Lecturer

Master in Systems and Control Engineering, Tokyo Institute of Technology, Japan, 2018

Basic Circuit

Digital Systems

IEEE Transaction on Instrumentation and Measurement Outstanding reviewer 2021

Reviewer in IEEE Transaction on Instrumentation and Measurement Journal and Kybernetes

examples of problem solving theories

Ariana Tulus Purnomo, S.T,. M.T., M.Eng., Ph.D

Ph.D in Electronic & Computer Engineering, National Taiwan University of Science & Technology, Taiwan

– Digital System – Basic Circuit

examples of problem solving theories

Rafie Djajasoepena, S.Kom., M.Kom.

Master of Information Technology, Swiss German University Tangerang

examples of problem solving theories

Prof. Dr. Media A. Ayu

Ph. D in Information Science and Engineering, Australian National University, Australia.

– Web Programming – Machine Learning – Artificial Intelligence – Research Methods – CS Seminar – Information Theory – Database Management System

examples of problem solving theories

Prof. Dr. Teddy Mantoro

Ph. D. in Computer Science, The Australian National University, Australia.

– Automata Theory – Computer System Administrator – Object Oriented Programming – CS Seminar – Computer Programming for Engineering Applications – Database Management System

examples of problem solving theories

Filscha Nur Prihatin, S.T., M.T., CESC., CSCE., CPLM

Master of Industrial Engineering & Management, Institut Teknologi Bandung

– Deterministic Operations Research – Probabilistic Operations Research – Human Side Organization – Engineering Economy – Production System Analysis (SCM I) – Industrial Engineering Colloquium

Reviewer in various internationally recognized and reputable journal & conferences.

Certified Expert in Supply Chain (CESC)™ from International Supply Chain and Quality Academy™ (ISCQAcademy™), Indonesia

Certified Supply Chain Expert (CSCE)™ from Supply Chain Institute™, United States

Certified Professional in Logistics Management (CPLM) from International Supply Chain Education Alliance (ISCEA), United States

Certified Lean Six Sigma Black Belt (CLSSBB) from The Council for Six Sigma Certification, United States

Certified Associate in Lean Supply Chain (CALSC), PASAS Insitute, Singapore

examples of problem solving theories

Dr. Ignatius Budi Sutanto H.S.

Ph. D. in Mechanical Engineering, The University of Texas at Austin, USA.

– Engineering Analysis – Introduction to Fluid Mechanics – Numerical Methods – Mechatronics – Electrical Circuits and Laboratory – Matlab 1 – Matlab 2 – Engineering Graphics – Vibrations – Control Systems

1 best paper in International Conference

3 Principal Investigator of 5 funded Research

examples of problem solving theories

Ir. Djati Wibowo. Ph.D.

Doctoral Degree National University of Singapore, Singapore

– Statics – Dynamics – Instrumentation Laboratory – Control System Design – Senior Mechanical Laboratory – Mechanical Vibrations – Planar Multibody Dynamics and Applications

IEEE Member, 2021 – now

Outstanding Community Service Awards, FET, Sampoerna University, Spring 2020 to Spring 2022

Outstanding Research Awads, FET, Sampoerna University, Spring 2022

Reviewer in Tier 1 WoS journals

Principal Investigator for industry – funded project, producing revenue generating activity in FET

Expert Member, National Center for Sustainable Transportation Technology (NCSTT), ITB, 2021-Now

examples of problem solving theories

Kushendarsyah Saptaji, Ph. D.

Ph. D. in Mechanical Engineering, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore

Manufacturing Processes

Machine Shop

Manufacturing Processes Lab

Heat Transfer

Fundamentals of Materials for Engineers

Additive Manufacturing

Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) Indonesia branch representative

2 best presenter and 1 best paper in International Conference

Vice Editor Indonesian Journal of Computing, Engineering and Design (Sinta 3 index)

Became Principle Investigator for 5 research funds and Co-Investigator for 9 research funds

Published 14 research articles in high impact reference journals, 20 international conference proceedings and 3 book chapter.

Completed about 30 industrial projects related to failure analysis and several industrial projects related to manufacturing.

examples of problem solving theories

Dr. Iwan Setiawan

General Education Lecturer and Head of Centre of Research and Community Services

Ph.D. in Chemistry, Michigan State University, USA.

General Chemistry I

General Chemistry I Lab

General Chemistry II

General Chemistry II Lab

General Biology

General Biology Lab

Brubaker Fellowship Award

Hypercube Scholar Award

Education Merit Fellowship Award

Publications in Journal of Physical Chemistry , Langmuir and Material Matters.

examples of problem solving theories

Tombak Matahari, M. Ds.

Head of Visual Communication Design Study Program

Master of Design, Art and Design Faculty , Bandung Institute of Technology.

Game Design

Digital Photography and Videography

The Origin of Design

Fundamental Audio Video

Indonesian Art Studies

Collaborative Design

AR and VR Design Development

Former Head of Graphic Design / Art Director : CNN Indonesia, Trans7

Worldwide Winner , Vizrt Worldwide Design Competition on Storytelling and Augmented Graphics, presented in NAB Las Vegas

Having Served Visual Design Consultant to Kemendikbud, Kominfo, Kemenparekraf, BPJS Ketenagakerjaan and Bank Indonesia

examples of problem solving theories

Dr. M. Agni Catur Bhakti

Head of Computer Science Study Program

Ph. D. in Information Technology, Petronas University of Technology, Malaysia.

Computer Programming

Computer Organization & Architecture

Software Engineering

Object Oriented Modeling & Design

Embedded Computer Systems

Certified assessor of competence in the field of IT (by BNSP : National Body for Professional Certification) since 2015.

Served as co-chair and reviewer in several international conferences.

examples of problem solving theories

Ir. Farid Triawan, Dr. Eng.

Head of Mechanical Engineering Study Program

Dr. Eng, Mechanics of Material, Tokyo Institute of Technology

Course Taught

Mechanical Behaviour of Engineering Materials

Fundamental of Material Engineering

Dynamics of Machine

Engineering Component Design

Senior Colloquium

Mechanics fo Materials Lab.

Visiting Associate Professor, Tokyo Institute of Technology, 2018-Now

Best Engineering Teacher Award, Tokyo Institute of Technology, 2018

Outstanding Teaching Awads, FET, Sampoerna University, 2021, 2022.

Best Presenter, The 4th Annual Applied Science and Engineering Conference (AASEC2019), Bali, Indonesia, April 2019,

Vice Chair, International Committee, Tuning Test Item Bank Project, NIER, Japan, 2018-Now

examples of problem solving theories

Anak Agung Ngurah Perwira Redi, Ph.D.

Head of Industrial Engineering Study Program

Doctorate Degree, National Taiwan University of Science and Technology


Supply Chain Management,

Project Management,,

Human Factor and Ergonomics,

Technical Sales and Marketing,

Mathematical Foundations of IE

– Certified Supply Chain Analyst from The International Supply Chain Education Alliance (ISCEA)

– Scopus h-index: 13 with 70 documents and 700 citations. Link:

– Reviewer in various internationally recognized and reputable journal & conferences.

examples of problem solving theories

Surya Danusaputro Liman, Ph.D.

Dean of Faculty of Engineering and Technology

Doctor of Philosophy, Industrial Engineering, University of Florida, USA

Supply Chain Management


Engineering Economy

Production & Inventory Control

Project Management

Served on National Science Foundation Proposal Review Panel.

Program Coordinator at Sichuan University Pittsburgh Institute, China.

Adjunct Professor at Kasetsart University & NIDA Graduate School, Thailand.

Member of Texas Department of Transportation Task Force.

Member of Texas Tech University Teaching Academy.

Professor of the Year Texas Tech University.

Education Corner

15 Learning Theories in Education (A Complete Summary)

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So what are educational learning theories and how can we use them in our teaching practice? There are so many out there, how do we know which are still relevant and which will work for our classes?

There are 3 main schema’s of learning theories; Behaviorism, Cognitivism and Constructivism. In this article you will find a breakdown of each one and an explanation of the 15 most influential learning theories; from Vygotsky to Piaget and Bloom to Maslow and Bruner.

Swimming through treacle!

That’s what it feels like when you are trying to sort through and make sense of the vast amount of learning theories we have at our disposal.

Way back in ancient Greece, the philosopher, Plato , first pondered the question “How does an individual learn something new if the subject itself is new to them” (ok, so I’m paraphrasing, my ancient Greek isn’t very good!).

Since Plato, many theorists have emerged, all with their different take on how students learn. Learning theories are a set of principles that explain how best a student can acquire, retain and recall new information.

In this complete summary, we will look at the work of the following learning theorists.

Despite the fact there are so many educational theorists, there are three labels that they all fall under. Behaviorism , Cognitivism and Constructivism .



Behaviorism is based on the idea that knowledge is independent and on the exterior of the learner. In a behaviorist’s mind, the learner is a blank slate that should be provided with the information to be learnt.

Through this interaction, new associations are made and thus learning occurs. Learning is achieved when the provided stimulus changes behavior. A non-educational example of this is the work done by Pavlov .

Through his famous “salivating dog” experiment, Pavlov showed that a stimulus (in this case ringing a bell every time he fed the dog) caused the dog to eventually start salivating when he heard a bell ring.

The dog associated the bell ring with being provided with food so any time a bell was rung the dog started salivating, it had learnt that the noise was a precursor to being fed.

I use a similar approach to classroom management.

I adapt my body language .

I have taught my students that if I stand in a specific place in the classroom with my arms folded, they know that I’m getting frustrated with the level of noise and they start to quieten down or if I sit cross-legged on my desk, I’m about to say something important, supportive and they should listen because it affects them directly.

Behaviorism involves repeated actions, verbal reinforcement and incentives to take part. It is great for establishing rules, especially for behavior management.


In contrast to behaviorism, cognitivism focuses on the idea that students process information they receive rather than just responding to a stimulus, as with behaviorism.

There is still a behavior change evident, but this is in response to thinking and processing information.

Cognitive theories were developed in the early 1900s in Germany from Gestalt psychology by Wolfgang Kohler. In English, Gestalt roughly translates to the organisation of something as a whole, that is viewed as more than the sum of its individual parts.

Cognitivism has given rise to many evidence based education theories, including cognitive load theory , schema theory and dual coding theory as well as being the basis for retrieval practice.

In cognitivism theory, learning occurs when the student reorganises information, either by finding new explanations or adapting old ones.

This is viewed as a change in knowledge and is stored in the memory rather than just being viewed as a change in behavior. Cognitive learning theories are mainly attributed to Jean Piaget .

Examples of how teachers can include cognitivism in their classroom include linking concepts together, linking concepts to real-world examples, discussions and problem-solving.


Constructivism is based on the premise that we construct learning new ideas based on our own prior knowledge and experiences. Learning, therefore, is unique to the individual learner. Students adapt their models of understanding either by reflecting on prior theories or resolving misconceptions.

Students need to have a prior base of knowledge for constructivist approaches to be effective. Bruner’s spiral curriculum (see below) is a great example of constructivism in action.

As students are constructing their own knowledge base, outcomes cannot always be anticipated, therefore, the teacher should check and challenge misconceptions that may have arisen. When consistent outcomes are required, a constructivist approach may not be the ideal theory to use.

Examples of constructivism in the classroom include problem-based learning, research and creative projects and group collaborations.

learning theories summary, behaviorism, cognitivism, constructivism.

1. Piaget’s Theory of Cognitive Development

Jean Piaget

Piaget is an interesting character in Psychology. His theory of learning differs from many others in some important ways:

First, he focuses exclusively on children; Second, he talks about development (not learning per se) and Third, it’s a stage theory, not a linear progression theory. OK, so what’s he on about?

Well, there are some basic ideas to get your head around and some stages to understand too. The basic ideas are:

So here’s how it goes. Children develop Schemas of knowledge about the world. These are clusters of connected ideas about things in the real world that allow the child to respond accordingly.

When the child has developed a working Schema that can explain what they perceive in the world, that Schema is in a state of Equilibrium .

When the child uses the schema to deal with a new thing or situation, that Schema is in Assimilation and Accommodation happens when the existing Schema isn’t up to the job of explaining what’s going on and needs to be changed.

Once it’s changed, it returns to Equilibrium and life goes on. Learning is, therefore, a constant cycle of Assimilation; Accommodation; Equilibrium; Assimilation and so on…

All that goes through the 4 Stages of Cognitive Development , which are defined by age:

Piaget’s Stages of Cognitive Development

The Sensorimotor Stage runs from birth to 2 years and the child spends their time learning basic Schemas and Object Permanence (the idea that something still exists when you can’t see it).

The Preoperational Stage runs from 2 years to 7 years and the child develops more Schemas and the ability to think Symbolically (the idea that one thing can stand for another; words for example, or objects). At this point, children still struggle with Theory of Mind (Empathy) and can’t really get their head around the viewpoints of others.

The Concrete Operational Stage runs from 7 years to 11 years and this is the Stage when children start to work things out in their head rather than physically in the real world. They also develop the ability to Conserve (understand that something stays the same quantity even if it looks different).

The Formal Operational Stage runs from 11 years into adulthood and this is where abstract thought develops, as does logic and cool stuff like hypothesis testing.

According to Piaget, the whole process is active and requires the rediscovery and reconstructing of knowledge across the entire process of Stages.

Understanding the Stage a child is in informs what they should be presented with based on what they can and cannot do at the Stage they’re in.

Piaget’s work on cognitivism has given rise to some brilliant work from people like John Sweller who developed the fantastic Cognitive Load Theory and John Flavell’s work on metacognition

2. Vygotsky’s Theory of Learning

Lev Vygotsky

Vygotsky takes a different approach to Piaget’s idea that development precedes learning.

Instead, he reckons that social learning is an integral part of cognitive development and it is culture, not developmental Stage that underlies cognitive development. Because of that, he argues that learning varies across cultures rather than being a universal process driven by the kind of structures and processes put forward by Piaget.

Zone of Proximal Development

He makes a big deal of the idea of the Zone of Proximal Development in which children and those they are learning from co-construct knowledge. Therefore, the social environment in which children learn has a massive impact on how they think and what they think about.

They also differ in how they view language. For Piaget, thought drives language but for Vygotsky, language and thought become intertwined at about 3 years and become a sort of internal dialogue for understanding the world.

And where do they get that from? Their social environment of course, which contains all the cognitive/linguistic skills and tools to understand the world.

Vygotsky talks about Elementary Mental Functions , by which he means the basic cognitive processes of Attention, Sensation, Perception and Memory.

By using those basic tools in interactions with their sociocultural environment, children sort of improve them using whatever their culture provides to do so. In the case of Memory, for example, Western cultures tend towards note-taking, mind-maps or mnemonics whereas other cultures may use different Memory tools like storytelling.

In this way, a cultural variation of learning can be described quite nicely.

What are crucial in this learning theory are the ideas of Scaffolding, the Zone of Proximal Development ( ZPD ) and the More Knowledgeable Other ( MKO ). Here’s how all that works:

More Knowledgeable Other

The MKO can be (but doesn’t have to be) a person who literally knows more than the child. Working collaboratively, the child and the MKO operate in the ZPD, which is the bit of learning that the child can’t do on their own.

As the child develops, the ZPD gets bigger because they can do more on their own and the process of enlarging the ZPD is called Scaffolding .

Vygotsky Scaffolding

Knowing where that scaffold should be set is massively important and it’s the MKO’s job to do that so that the child can work independently AND learn collaboratively.

For Vygotsky, language is at the heart of all this because a) it’s the primary means by which the MKO and the child communicate ideas and b) internalising it is enormously powerful in cementing understanding about the world.

That internalisation of speech becomes Private Speech (the child’s “inner voice”) and is distinct from Social Speech , which occurs between people.

Over time, Social Speech becomes Private Speech and Hey Presto! That’s Learning because the child is now collaborating with themselves!

The bottom line here is that the richer the sociocultural environment, the more tools will be available to the child in the ZPD and the more Social Speech they will internalise as Private Speech. It doesn’t take a genius to work out, therefore, that the learning environment and interactions are everything.

Scaffolding is also an integral part of Rosenshine’s Principles of Instruction .

3. Bloom’s Domains of Learning

Benjamin Bloom

In 1956, American educational psychologist, Benjamin Bloom, first proposed three domains of learning; cognitive, affective and psycho-motor . Bloom worked in collaboration with David Krathwohl and Anne Harrow throughout the 1950s-70s on the three domains.

The Cognitive Domain (Bloom’s Taxonomy)

This was the first domain to be proposed in 1956 and it focuses on the idea that objectives that are related to cognition could be divided into subdivisions and ranked in order of cognitive difficulty.

These ranked subdivisions are what we commonly refer to as Bloom’s taxonomy . The original subdivisions are as follows (knowledge is the lowest with evaluation being the most cognitively difficult):

However, there was a major revision of the subdivisions in 2000-01 by Bloom’s original partner, David Krathwohl and his colleague, Lorin Anderson (Anderson was a former student of Bloom’s).

The highlights of this revision were switching names of the subdivisions from nouns to verbs, thus making them easier to use when curriculum and lesson planning .

The other main change was the order of the top two subdivisions was reversed. The updated taxonomy is as follows:

bloom's taxonomy

The Affective Domain

The affective domain (sometimes referred to as the feeling domain) is concerned with feelings and emotions and also divides objectives into hierarchical subcategories. It was proposed by Krathwohl and Bloom in 1964.

The affective domain is not usually used when planning for maths and sciences as feelings and emotion are not relevant for those subjects. However, for educators of arts and language, the inclusion of the affective domain is imperative wherever possible.

The ranked domain subcategories range from “receiving” at the lower end up to “characterisation” at the top. The full ranked list is as follows:

The Psychomotor Domain

The psychomotor domain refers to those objectives that are specific to reflex actions interpretive movements and discreet physical functions.

A common misconception is that physical objectives that support cognitive learning fit the psycho-motor label, for example; dissecting a heart and then drawing it.

While these are physical (kinesthetic) actions, they are a vector for cognitive learning, not psycho-motor learning.

Psychomotor learning refers to how we use our bodies and senses to interact with the world around us, such as learning how to move our bodies in dance or gymnastics.

Anita Harrow classified different types of learning in the psycho-motor domain from those that are reflex to those that are more complex and require precise control.

learning theories summary

4. Gagné’s Conditions of Learning

Robert Mills Gagné

Robert Mills Gagné was an American educational psychologist who, in 1965 published his book “The Conditions of Learning”. In it, he discusses the analysis of learning objectives and how the different classes of objective require specific teaching methods.

He called these his 5 conditions of learning, all of which fall under the cognitive, affective and psycho-motor domains discussed earlier.

Gagné’s 5 Conditions of Learning

Gagné’s 9 Levels of Learning

To achieve his five conditions of learning, Gagné believed that learning would take place when students progress through nine levels of learning and that any teaching session should include a sequence of events through all nine levels. The idea was that the nine levels of learning activate the five conditions of learning and thus, learning will be achieved.

Benefits of Gagné’s Theory

Used in conjunction with Bloom’s taxonomy, Gagné’s nine levels of learning provide a framework that teachers can use to plan lessons and topics. Bloom provides the ability to set objectives that are differentiated and Gagné gives a scaffold to build your lesson on.

5. Jerome Bruner

Jerome Bruner

Bruner’s Spiral Curriculum (1960)

Cognitive learning theorist, Jerome Bruner based the spiral curriculum on his idea that “ We begin with the hypothesis that any subject can be taught in some intellectually honest form to any child at any stage of development” .

In other words, he meant that even very complex topics can be taught to young children if structured and presented in the right way. The spiral curriculum is based on three key ideas.

Bruner’s 3 Modes of Representation (1966)

Following the idea of the spiral curriculum, Bruner presented the idea of three modes of representation. These modes of representation refer to the way knowledge is stored in memory. Unlike Piaget’s age-related stages, Bruner’s modes are loosely sequential.

6. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

learning theories summary, maslow's hierarchy of needs

The basic premise for Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is that students progress through a set of sequential needs from physiological to self-actualisation. As they move up through the levels, they feel more comfortable in their learning environment and have the confidence to push further.

It’s important to note that any group of students will have learners at different levels, some may not have the lower levels met at home so making sure these students feel safe and secure is of the utmost importance as they will find it very hard to move to the upper levels.

Maslow’s theory lends itself more to building student/teacher relationships rather than lesson or curriculum structure. You can have the best resources and most tightly planned lessons in the world but if you don’t show enthusiasm, passion and empathy it will be very difficult for your students to feel their needs have been met .

Further reading:

7. Howard Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences

Howard Gardner

Howard Gardner is an American developmental psychologist and professor of cognition and education at the Harvard graduate school at Harvard University. He studied under Erik Ericson (Below) and Jerome Bruner (above).

He published “Frames of Mind” in 1983, in it, he laid out his theory of “multiple intelligences”.

Gardner perceived intelligence as the ability to solve problems or make products that are useful in one or more cultural settings.

He developed a list of criteria he would use to judge possible contenders for the title “intelligence”. Candidates had to satisfy a range of the conditions on his list and also be able to solve genuine problems of difficulties. Initially, Gardner named seven intelligences.

Gardner’s 7 Intelligences

The Importance of Multiple Intelligence in the Classroom

Gardner suggested that the intelligences rarely operate independently and compliment each other as students learn new skills and solve problems. He also commented that the intelligences are amoral, meaning they can be used for constructive or destructive purposes.

Whilst Gardner’s theory hasn’t been hugely accepted in the field of Psychology, it has had a strong positive response in education , especially in the US.

In the face of criticism that it is hard to teach things in the frame of a certain intelligence, Gardner replied by stating that the seven intelligences give 7 ways to teach a subject, allowing multiple strategies to be used, thus allowing all students to make progress.

Gardner believes that all seven intelligences are required to live life well and education systems should include all seven not just the more academic first two.

Naturalist Intelligence

Since its original publication, Gardner has since added an eighth intelligence; Naturalist intelligence. This deals with an individual’s ability to perceive, recognise and order features from the environment.

8. Erikson’s 8 Stages of Psychological Development

Erik Erikson

Erik Erikson was a stage theorist who developed Freud’s “Psychosexual Theory” and adapted it into a psychosocial (having both psychological and social aspects) theory encompassing eight stages.

According to Erikson, we experience eight stages of development during our life span. Within each stage, there is a dilemma that we must resolve in order to feel a sense of competence and will allow us to develop as a well-adjusted adult.

Erikson’s 8 Stages

Educational Implications of Erikson’s Theory of Psychosocial Development

Within an educational frame, Erikson’s work gives us as teachers a framework to base our teaching on. Knowing what questions our students are asking of themselves and the world around them allows us to plan effectively.

Problems arise when our class has children at different stages in it, in this case, we must carefully differentiate our pedagogy to allow supportive learning for all students.

9. Kolb’s Experiential Theory

Kolb’s experi e ntial learning cycle.

learning theories summary, Kolb's Experiential Learning Cycle

David Kolb, an American education theorist proposed his four-stage experiential learning theory in 1984. It is built on the premise that learning is the acquisition of abstract concepts which can then be applied to a range of scenarios.

“Learning is the process whereby knowledge is created through the transformation of experience” – Kolb, D. A. (1984).  Experiential learning: Experience as the source of learning and development  (Vol. 1). Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.

Each stage in the cycle both supports and leads into the next stage. Learning is achieved only if all four stages have been completed, however, a learner may travel around the cycle multiple times, further refining their understanding of the topic.

No one stage is an effective learning strategy on its own, for example, if the reflective observation stage is skipped, the learner could continue to make the same mistakes.

10. The Peter Principle

Laurence Peter

The Peter Principle was developed by American educational theorist Laurence Peter and was explained in the book “The Peter Principle” that Peter wrote with his colleague, Raymond Hull.

Originally the book was supposed to be a satirical view on how people are promoted in organisations but it became popular as it actually made a valid point.

Whilst not strictly a learning theory, it does have some crossover to the classroom. The Peter Principal deals with four levels of competence. They could give a teacher planning a long term teaching strategy a framework to use when thinking about how students progress.

I’m sure you can see how this would translate to a student’s learning journey.

Further Reading: Peter, L. J., & Hull, R. (1969). The peter principle .

11. Laird’s Sensory Theory

In 1985 Dugan Laird stated in his book Approaches to Training and Development that learning occurs when the senses are stimulated.

He quoted research that found that 75% of an adult’s knowledge was obtained by seeing. 13% was through hearing, the remaining 12% was learned through touch, smell and taste combined.

Based on this research, providing visual prompts for students will enhance their learning. However, making your lessons a multi-sensual experience will enhance learning even further. It’s worth considering this when planning your lessons.

12. Skinner’s Behaviorist Theory

B. F. Skinner

Operant Conditioning

Operant conditioning is based on Thorndike’s “Law of Effect” (1898), in which it is proposed that behaviors that are followed by positive responses are likely to be repeated and those that are followed by negative responses, not repeated.

Skinner refined the Law of Effect by introducing “reinforcement” into the descriptions. Using Skinner’s new description we end up with; those behaviors that are reinforced are repeated (strengthened) and those not reinforced tend to dissipate (are weakened).

Positive Reinforcement

From a classroom management perspective, positive reinforcement is an essential strategy for teaching students how to act and conduct themselves.

Positive reinforcement (e.g. praise) should be given for behaviors that are desirable, for example, verbally answering questions in class . Initially, this should be done for all answers given, regardless of whether they are correct. This will build a culture of answering questions.

As the behavior in question becomes commonplace, the teacher should then both reduce the frequency of the reinforcement and, as in our above example, only give it for correct answers.

Ultimately the teacher will reduce the frequency of the positive reinforcement to only those responses of the highest calibre. This will create a culture of desired excellence in the students.

13. Rogers’ Humanist Theory

Carl Rogers

Developed by the American psychologist Carl Rogers in the 1980s, facilitative learning is a humanistic approach to learning.

Humanism was developed to contrast cognitivism and behaviorism. Both Rogers and Maslow (see above) based their work in humanism. The key perspectives of humanism are as follows:

Facilitative Learning

Rogers’ views the teacher as a facilitator to learning rather than just a conveyor of knowledge. The success of the teacher is in their ability to build positive relationships with students.

Roger’s proposed three attitudinal core characteristics that a teacher should possess for facilitative learning to be successful:

The effectiveness of facilitative learning also requires certain traits to be present in the student. They should be motivated , aware of the facilitative conditions they have been provided with and aware that the task they have been given is useful, realistic and relevant.

If all these characteristics are present then, in the words of Rogers himself:

“learning becomes life, and a very vital life at that. The student is on his way, sometimes excitedly, sometimes reluctantly, to becoming a learning, changing being”. – Rogers, Carl R. The Interpersonal Relationship in the Facilitation of Learning. In Humanizing Education: The Person in the Process. Ed. T. Leeper. National Education Association, Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, p1-18. 1967.

14. Canter’s Theory of Assertive Discipline

Lee Canter

Assertive discipline is a structured system to enable teachers to manage their classrooms. It focuses on the teacher developing a positive behavior management strategy rather than being dictatorial.

Canter’s proposition is that the teacher has the right to decide what is best for their students and that no student should prevent any other from learning.

The teacher should very clear boundaries as to how they expect their students to behave and work, the students should know what these boundaries are and any deviation should be met with an assertive action from the teacher.

This all sounds quite draconian, right?

However, if the teacher gives a firm, clear instruction and those instructions are met, they should be followed by positive reinforcement (see Skinner above). Any deviation from the instruction should be met with negative consequences that the students have prior knowledge of.

The behavior management guru, Bill Rogers, bases his strategies on the assertive teacher model , which I know from personal use, works incredibly well.

Canters methods of assertive discipline

15. Dreikur’s Classroom Management Theory

Rudolph Dreikur

Rudolf Dreikur proposed the theory that mutual respect should be the basis for discipline and that this mutual respect motivates learners to display positive behaviors.

He believed students have an innate desire to feel like an accepted member of a group and to feel like they have value and confidence to contribute to that group. Dreikur called this desire to belong, the “genuine goal of social behavior”.

If students are unable to achieve this goal, they start a series of “goals of misbehavior”. The resulting misbehavior is a misguided attempt at gaining the sense of belonging they are missing.

Dreikur’s 4 Goals of Misbehavior

If a student fails to gain social status by gaining attention , they move on to trying to gain power and control, failure at each successive level ultimately ends with feelings of inadequacy.

How to Combat the 4 Goals of Misbehavior.

Gain Attention. Ignore the attention-seeking and use positive reinforcement when positive behavior is shown. Distract the student by offering alternate actions or choices e.g. “Please could you hand out the books”.

Gain Power and Control. Focus on all the good behavior in the class, while ignoring the attempt to gain power, on no account should you engage in a battle for power. Bill Rogers, the behavior expert, calls this the black dot, white square approach.

Gain Revenge. Remember that the student is trying to gain a sense of belonging and this revenge-seeking is a masked attempt to gain it. Away from other students, let the student know that you care about them and their education, that despite their actions you want the best for them.

Display Feelings of Inadequacy. At this stage, the student has given up on themselves. This stage will manifest in the form of “not doing” (not doing homework, not participating etc.). Students at this stage should be shown how to recognise small successes and achievements. Showing an interest in them and their work will always help slowly bring a student out of this stage.

Learning Theories Summary

I know what you’re thinking. “How the hell am I supposed to do all of these” or “which ones should I use” or “I’m more confused than ever!”.

That’s how I felt when I was doing my teacher training. The truth is, great teaching involves a cocktail of most of these at some point (and a few actual cocktails at the weekend to recover!).

If you are just starting out on your journey as a teacher and you are worried that you’ll do it wrong, just remember these basic principles:

I hope you found this article useful, I know it reminded me of a good few things that I may have been slacking with. Feel free to share it with your teacher friends, I’m sure they will appreciate it.

Learning Theories FAQ

Behaviorism involves repeated actions, verbal reinforcement and incentives to take part. It is great for establishing rules, especially for behavior management . Behaviorism is based on the idea that knowledge is independent and on the exterior of the learner. In a behaviorist’s mind, the learner is a blank slate that should be provided with the information to be learnt. Through this interaction, new associations are made and thus leaning occurs. Learning is achieved when the provided stimulus changes behavior.

In contrast to behaviorism, cognitivism focuses on the idea that students process information they receive rather than just responding to a stimulus, as with behaviorism. There is still a behavior change evident, but this is in response to thinking and processing information. In cognitive load theory , learning occurs when the student reorganises information, either by finding new explanations or adapting old ones.

Constructivism is based on the premise that we construct learning new ideas based on our own prior knowledge and experiences. Learning, therefore, is unique to the individual learner. Students adapt their models of understanding either by reflecting on prior theories or resolving misconceptions. Students need to have a prior base of knowledge for constructivist approaches to be effective. Bruner’s spiral curriculum is a great example of constructivism in action.

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3 thoughts on “15 Learning Theories in Education (A Complete Summary)”

What a great overview! Thank you

Is there a new paradigm of AI-assisted education? Everybody uses this kind of education both in learning and teaching, yet there is not a universal theory of such that subject.

Wow..indeed a phenomenal explanation of various learning theories Thank you.

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Problem-solving in dreams (famous examples)

In dreams, while our conscious mind is inactive, our subconscious mind is actively working on problems that we may have failed to solve consciously in our waking life. That’s why it’s highly likely that a solution to a problem that you’ve been working on for quite a while can pop up in your dream.

This is similar to when, for example, you are thinking hard about a problem and then you let go of it because you can’t come up with a solution. And then after a while, when you’re involved in some other unrelated activity, the solution to your problem suddenly pops up from nowhere. You say you had an insight .

This happens because as soon as you let go of the problem consciously, your subconscious mind is still working on solving it behind the scenes.

Once it solves the problem, it gets ready to launch the solution into your consciousness as soon as it comes across a trigger that’s in some way similar to the solution- an image, a situation, a word, etc.

Examples of some famous solutions found in dreams

Dreams not only help you understand your own psychological makeup but also solve your complex daily life problems for you. If you aren’t maintaining a dream journal yet, the following anecdotes will surely motivate you to record your dreams…

Structure of benzene

August Kekule had been trying to figure out how atoms in the benzene molecule arranged themselves but couldn’t come up with a plausible explanation. One night he dreamed of dancing atoms that gradually arranged themselves in the form of a snake.

The snake then turned around and swallowed its own tail, forming a ring-like shape. This figure then kept dancing in front of him.

Upon waking up Kekule realized that the dream was telling him that benzene molecules were made of rings of carbon atoms.

The problem of the shape of the benzene molecule was solved and a new field called aromatic chemistry came into existence that significantly advanced the understanding of chemical bonding.

problem solving in dreams

Transmission of nerve impulses

Otto Loewi believed that nerve impulses were transmitted chemically but he had no way to demonstrate it. For years he searched for ways to prove his theory experimentally.

One night he dreamed of an experimental design that he could possibly use to prove his theory. He carried out the experiments, published his work and finally confirmed his theory. He later won a Nobel prize in medicine and is widely regarded as the ‘father of neuroscience’.

Mendeleev’s periodic table

Mendeleev wrote names of the different elements along with their properties on cards that he laid out in front of him on his table. He arranged and re-arranged the cards on the table trying to figure out a pattern.

Exhausted, he fell asleep and in his dream he saw the elements getting arranged in a logical pattern according to their atomic weights. Thus the periodic table was born.

The golf swing

Jack Nicklaus was a golf player who hadn’t been doing well lately. One night he dreamed that he was playing very well and noticed that his grip on the golf club was different than what he actually used in the real world. He tried the grip that he’d seen in the dream and it worked. His golfing skills greatly improved.

The sewing machine

This is the anecdote that I found most fascinating. Elias Howe, the inventor of the modern sewing machine, faced a great dilemma while making the machine. He didn’t know where to provide an eye to his sewing machine needle. He couldn’t provide it at the tail, as is usually done in hand-held needles.

One night, after he had spent days figuring out a solution, he saw a dream in which he had been assigned the task of making a sewing machine by a king. The king gave him 24 hours to make it or else he would be executed. He struggled with the same problem of the needle eye in the dream. Then the time of execution arrived.

While he was being carried by the guards for execution, he noticed their spears were pierced at the tips. He had found the answer! He should provide the eye to his sewing machine needle at its pointed tip! He begged for more time and whilst begging he woke up. He rushed to the machine that he had been working on and solved his problem.

Dreams and creativity

Dreams can not only provide us with solutions to problems but also give us creative insights.

Stephen King’s plot for his famous novel  Misery  was inspired by a dream, so was Stephanie Meyer’s  Twilight . Mary Shelly, the creator of the Frankenstein monster, had actually seen the character in a dream.

The Terminator, created by James Cameron, was also inspired by a dream. Paul McCartney of The Beatles one day ‘woke up with a tune in his head’ and the song ‘Yesterday’ now has the Guinness world record for the greatest number of covers.

hanan parvez

Hi, I’m Hanan Parvez (MBA, MA Psychology), founder and author of PsychMechanics. PsychMechanics has been featured in Forbes , Business Insider , Reader’s Digest , and Entrepreneur .

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Social Work Theory and Ethics pp 1–19 Cite as

Problem-Solving Theory: The Task-Centred Model

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Part of the Social Work book series (SOWO)

This chapter examines the task-centred model to illustrate the application of problem-solving theory for social work intervention. First, it provides a brief description of the problem-solving model. Its historical development and key principles and concepts are presented. Next, the chapter offers a general overview of the crisis intervention model. The task-centred model and crisis intervention share principles and methods drawn from problem-solving theory. The remainder of the chapter focuses on the task-centred model. It reviews its historical background, viability as a framework for social work generalist practice, as well as its applicability with diverse client populations and across cultural settings. The structured steps that guide task-centred implementation throughout the helping process are described. A brief critical review of the model’s strengths and limitations is provided. The chapter concludes with a brief summary and some closing thoughts.

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Blanca M. Ramos

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Ramos, B.M., Stetson, R.L. (2022). Problem-Solving Theory: The Task-Centred Model. In: Hölscher, D., Hugman, R., McAuliffe, D. (eds) Social Work Theory and Ethics. Social Work. Springer, Singapore.

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Received : 24 December 2021

Accepted : 25 January 2022

Published : 12 April 2022

Publisher Name : Springer, Singapore

Print ISBN : 978-981-16-3059-0

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Creative Problem Solving Theories - Literature review Example

Creative Problem Solving Theories

Extract of sample "Creative Problem Solving Theories"

Herrmann (1989) initiated this school of thought and it originated from the split-brain theory that separates the functioning of the brain into the left and right hemispheric processes. According to Herrmann (1989), the separation of the brain into two hemispheres, upper and lower quadrant, is critical in the understanding of how the brain operates to actualize certain decisions in a creative manner. This means that the whole brain appears in the form of a metaphoric model, which adopts an A, B, C, and D quadrant (Cox, 2013).

The upper left quadrant, A, possesses the logical, analytical, qualitative, and rational aspects of thinking. This is the factual base of the brain (Polette, 2012). The lower left quadrant of the brain, B, possesses the ability to plan, organize, and enhance focus on detail and linear thinking. This is the sequential part of the brain that ensures the systemization of ideas. In the third quadrant, which is the upper right part of the brain, D has the responsibility of the holistic, intuitive, integrative, and synthesis of processes (Polette, 2012).

The lower right party of the brain, C, is the emotional part of the brain/. It helps in the generation of feelings, kinetic awareness, and interpersonal skills. Herrmann (1989) views creativity as necessitating the utilization of thinking processes from all four quadrants.The hemisphere that defines the brain model is specialized in numerous ways. The physical connection secures integration in the functioning of different parts of the brain. Herrmann uses the left-right theory, the triune theory, and the available physical association between the right and left sides of the brain (Polette, 2012).

The connection that exists between the upper and lower part of the brain help in the development of a correlation of different parts of the brain to ensure that there is a uniform way by which every part plays its specialized role in facilitating creative thinking (Polette, 2012). Inasmuch as an individual may favor the cognitive initiatives associated with a given quadrant of the brain all parts of these hemispheres play an essential role in contributing to the development of everything in a different way (Polette, 2012).

For most of the tasks that involve the solution to creative problems, diverse groups must engage different parts of their brains. When every individual is thinking in a similar manner Herrmann (1989) argues that in such a situation, there is no real thinking going on.

Walla’s model of the creative process This school of thought divides the process of creative thinking into four stages these stages include, incubation, illumination and verification. At the preparation stage, which is the first stage, an individual must begin by assimilating according to his or her ability (Deb, 2006). This will entail different aspects such as the problem in question, the available knowledge concerning the problem. An understanding of this process and all that it entails is essential in ensuring the success of the creative process of problem solving (Griffin & Morrison, 2010).

This process also involves preparation from the generation of a creative solution and this requires an in-depth study of intent thought of the problem in hand. The brain at this point is activated towards a brainstorming initiative. The preparation process involves the activation of the left side of the brain (Griffin & Morrison, 2010). Incubation is the second stage according to Walla’s approach to creative problem solving. It is at times referred to as a germination period where the concerned individuals are allowed to step away from the said problem and engage in some from of initiative that has no relationship with the problem in question (Deb, 2006).

The incubation period allows to the problem to sink deep into the conscience of the concerned individuals. As they engage in other activities, they will be able to prepare their minds for some work concerned with generation of solutions (Daft & Lane, 2008). In addition, the stage of incubation also allows an individual to internalize the problem that he or she envisions to illustrate. Incubation allows the activation of the right side of the brain to enable internalization of the problem.

The brain is able to make necessary connection between the problem and possible solutions in a free and abundant manner (Daft & Lane, 2008). Illumination stage is the third stage in the creative problem solving process. It involves the generation of possible solutions to an internalized a properly understood problem (Mumford, 2012). It involves the transfer of the possible solutions from the subconscious part of the brain to the conscious part (Deb, 2006). This is referred to as a moment of insight and optimism considering that the individual not only understands the problem in hand but also is able to generate numerous solutions that could be used in tackling these problems (Mumford, 2012).

During this stage, brilliant ideas shoot from the mind of the problem solver while performing a given task or when involved in a different activity (Griffin & Morrison, 2010). Verification stage is the last stage according to Walla’s creative thinking approach. During this stage, the ideas that are generated must be taken through a testing process that allows for their validation (Mumford, 2012). This involves assessing the practicality of these solutions from both the theoretical and real life perspective (Mumford, 2012).

This is accomplished by finding a connection between the content, the areas of use and the possible effects. The verification stage also involves an assessment of whether the solution initiated in this stage can be used in solving a problem identified in the first stage. This is made possible through an engagement of the left side of the brain (Griffin & Morrison, 2010). One outstanding similarity between the whole brain model and Walla’s model of creative process revolves around the fact that both of them emphasize on the role of the brain the generation of creative solutions (Cox, 2013).

The role of the brain not only involves an understanding of the problems at hand but also the generation of the possible solutions to these problems. Herrmann’s perspective of the whole brain approach however, emphasizes on the separation of the brain into different parts, which act independently towards the realization of a given goal (Daft & Lane, 2008). This is considered as different compared to Walla’s creative process of problem solving because Walla’s approach emphasizes on the four stages that which provide effective procedures through which different problems within the society can be understood and solved (Daft & Lane, 2008).

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Clinical problem-solving in nursing: insights from the literature


This paper reviews the literature surrounding the research on how individuals solve problems. The purpose of the review is to heighten awareness amongst nurses in general, and nurse academics in particular about the theories developed, approaches taken and conclusions reached on how clinicians problem-solve. The nursing process, which is heavily used and frequently described as a problem-solving approach to nursing care, requires a deductive reasoning process which is not the problem-solving process in use during care-giving activities. More knowledge is required on what process is in place as we develop as a profession. The literature highlights the complexities involved in attempting to uncover thinking processes. The main research approaches to discovering problem-solving strategies in the past three decades have been from a cognitive perspective, with two main theories, decision-theory and information processing-theory, underpinning the majority of studies conducted. None of the research approaches used to date has resulted in the identification of a general model of problem-solving that is consistent across tasks or disciplines. However, early hypothesis activation with subsequent testing of the hypothesis seems to be consistent in clinicians across disciplines.

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