Problem Solving Strategies thought process involved in a person’s effort to remove obstacles in the way to achieve the goals state. Such a process is involved in critical thinking in taking many important decisions of life as well as in solving simple routine problems. Gestalt Psychologists suggest that problem-solving behavior also follows the stages that are followed in creative thinking: preparation, incubation, illumination or insight and verifications. These stages, in brief, I have already discussed in the previous article. If you have not read this article then must read before move further in this article.
What are the Stages of Problem Solving?
According to Polya, there are four stages involved in problem-solving and these are as given below:
Stage 1: Define, understand and think about the problem.
In this stage, there is identification of the actual problem, attributes of the problem, area of knowledge involved in solving the problem and collecting relevant information.
Stage 2: Devise a plan for a solution.
This stage includes thinking of alternate ways to solve the problem and preparing a flowchart of solution.
Stage 3: Carry out the plan.
This stage of problem is to execute the solution to the problem.
Stage 4: Looking back.
This involves verifying that the problem solved was the one originally defined, and also checking reasonableness, criteria and constraints as well as communicate results.
Problem Solving Strategies
Even if the operator has all the basic knowledge and background skills, yet have is no guarantee that they will solve the problem successfully.
In order to be successful in solving a problem, an additional element needed is to have a general strategy that can be used for problem-solving.
A strategy is a set of sequential steps( or procedure) used by a problem to solve in arriving at a solution. The strategy should help the operator by guiding him/her to efficiently extract relevant data from the problem space and by giving a planned approach to solving the problem. Cognitive Psychologists have described two major types of strategies generally used by the operator and these are the termed algorithms and heuristics.
Factors affecting Problem Solving
Some of these factors are inherent in the problem itself, while others belong to the personal characteristics of the problem solver. These factors include:
- Nature of the problem
- Degree of difference between the initial and the goal state
- The Perceiver’s set
- Functional Fixedness
Problem Solving Examples
In one experiment, Kohler(1927) put a hungry chimpanzee in a closed cage with bananas hanging from the roof and three boxes on the floor. It should be noted that the chimpanzee can come closer to the bananas only by putting all the three boxes together in a vertical manner. In Kohler’s experiment, after a series of irrelevant behaviors, the chimpanzee suddenly solved resulted from internal representation and understanding of the problem which was continuously going on in the chimpanzee’s unconscious and is termed as insight by Kohler and other Gestalt psychologists. For in-depth knowledge of these Factors Affecting Problem Solving Strategies Click on the link.