The problem-solving process can be described as a journey from
meeting a problem for the first time to finding a solution,
communicating it and evaluating the route. There are many models of
the problem-solving process but they all have a similar structure.
One model is given below. Although implying a linear process from
comprehension through to evaluation, the model is more of a flow
backward and forward, revisiting and revising on the
Having understood what the problem is about and established what
needs finding, this stage is about planning a pathway to the
solution. It is within this process that you might encourage pupils
to think about whether they have seen something similar before and
what strategies they adopted then. This will help them to identify
appropriate methods and tools. Particular knowledge and skills gaps
that need addressing may become evident at this stage.
During the execution phase, pupils might identify further
related problems they wish to investigate. They will need to
consider how they will keep track of what they have done and how
they will communicate their findings. This will lead on to
interpreting results and drawing conclusions.
Pupils can learn as much from reflecting on and evaluating what
they have done as they can from the process of solving the problem
itself. During this phase pupils should be expected to reflect on
the effectiveness of their approach as well as other people's
approaches, justify their conclusions and assess their own
learning. Evaluation may also lead to thinking about other
questions that could now be investigated.
Aspects of using and applying reflect skills that can be
developed through problem solving. For example:
Functional maths requires learners to be able to use mathematics
in ways that make them effective and involved as citizens, able to
operate confidently in life and to work in a wide range of
contexts. The key processes of Functional Skills reflect closely
the problem solving model but within three phases: