So now you have to solve a problem? Solving a problem shouldn't be anything new to you--you solve problems on a daily basis. In fact, you do it so frequently that you may not be aware of the steps you go through to solve your problem. As a reminder, here is a step-by-step model to Problem-Based Learning (PBL). This model sets out what you can do to successfully come up with a solution. Feel free to print this model and keep it with you as you work.

1. Read and analyze the scenario and situation.
Check your understanding of the scenario and situation by discussing it within your team.  

Don't be tempted to start thinking about potential solutions or to start looking for information. Your team will be more effective in finding solutions or making recommendations by following Steps 1 through 7.

2. List hypotheses, ideas, or hunches.
Write in a list your theories or hypotheses about the cause of the problem or ideas about how to solve the problem. You will either support or refute these ideas as your investigation proceeds.

List other different ideas that need to be addressed.

3. List what is known.
If needed, print a copy of the scenario and situation and move away from the computer.

On a separate sheet of paper, make a heading entitled "What do we know?"

As a team, list everything your team knows about this situation, including information contained in the scenario.

4. List what is unknown.
Make a second heading entitled "What do we need to know?"

Prepare a list of team questions that need to be answered to solve the problem. Several types of questions may be appropriate. Questions may be in the form of requests for more information. These questions will guide research that may take place on the Internet/WWW, in the library, or with other sources.

5. List what needs to be done.
Make a third heading entitled "What should we do?"

List your plans for investigation. These plans may include questioning an expert, getting online data, or visiting a library to find answers to the questions developed in Step 4.

6. Develop a problem statement.
Write a one or two sentence idea that clearly identifies what your team is trying to solve, produce, respond to, test, or find out.

In complex situations, you may have to begin Step 7, then discuss the information in order to complete Step 6.

Keep in mind that the problem statement may have to be revised as new information is discovered about the situation.

7. Gather information.
Divide responsibility for gathering, organizing, analyzing, and interpreting information from many sources.

Exchange ideas; think about solutions; weigh alternatives; and consider the pros and cons of possible courses of action.

At this point, you and your team may formulate and test new hypotheses concerning the problem. Some problems may not require hypotheses.

Propose a recommended solution or opinion (based on your team's research data).

8. Present findings.
Prepare a report or presentation in which you and your team make recommendations, predictions, inferences, or other appropriate solutions to the problem.

Be prepared to support the positions you take.

If appropriate, consider a multimedia presentation using images, graphics, or sound.

Note: The steps in this model may have to be repeated several times. Steps 3 through 7 may be conducted at the same time as new information becomes available. As more information is gathered, the problem statement may be refined or altered.

PBL Model .. | .. Writing Reports .. | .. Searching the Web .. | .. Evaluating a Web Site .. | .. Voicing Your Opinion .. | .. Creating a Web Site

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