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Polishing skill in problem solving Donald R. Woods Chemical Engineering Department McMaster University, Hamilton, ON Canada 1.

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Presentation on theme: "Polishing skill in problem solving Donald R. Woods Chemical Engineering Department McMaster University, Hamilton, ON Canada 1."— Presentation transcript:

1 Polishing skill in problem solving Donald R. Woods Chemical Engineering Department McMaster University, Hamilton, ON Canada 1

2 Polishing skill in problem solving If they can’t solve problems, it’s because they don’t know the knowledge INCORRECT: Frazer: 53% knew the chemistry knowledge... But couldn’t problem solve Schmidt: 82 % knew MD clinical knowledge.. But couldn’t apply to 50% of clinical cases Voss: knew social sciences... But were unsuccessful problem solvers 2

3 But... Skill in problem solving is needed. What difficulties do students have? Research: 3

4 More research about lack of skill in problem solving 4

5 Research about problem solving 5

6 Validated McMaster student’s behaviour with observations of classes at McGill University, University of Waterloo Virginia Polytech Granville College 6

7 Year 1 students: define problem Task: define the problem 7

8 Year 2 students: draw diagram Excess hydrogen is burned in air to produce a nitrogen/hydrogen ratio of 3/1. The resulting burner gas is fed to a converter to produce ammonia gas that is separated via condensation. Unconverted gas is fed back to the converter. 8

9 Year 4 students: what is the problem? What offset is expected after a step change of 5 units in a second-order process controlled by a proportional controller? Gain = 4.0; time constants = 0.2 and 0.0 respectively 9

10 Areas to improve Research summary: Difficulties with most aspects of PS. Extensive research evidence about successful vs unsuccessful skills Target behaviours 10

11 How to polish skill & develop confidence Ineffective Students solve 3013 problems in 4 years - solve 45 open-ended problems - watch profs solve 1000 problems - work problems on board Further evidence: Pre and post tests of students over 4 years, via Heppner’s PSI instrument, showed no improvement in confidence in PS. 11

12 Resources consulted to guide in polishing skills 12

13 Resources consulted to guide in polishing skills 13

14 Resources consulted to guide in polishing skills 14

15 MPS program: design So what? Workshops; NOT lectures Based on cognitive/behavioural research; still valid in 2020 = Target skills; learning objectives Define skills Rationalize use & importance Pre-test, Objectives, Targets Route ahead Build skill: activity + feedback + reflect Research evidence Bridge skill: activity + feedback + reflect Post-test, Objectives DISCOVERY Write reflective journal including Extend to everyday 15

16 MPS program: topics 16

17 MPS program: effectiveness Marks in all courses improve for D,C,B students 17

18 MPS program: effectiveness Statistically significant improvement in: Problem solving confidence (Heppner) Problem solving skill (Billings-Moos) Lifelong learning (LASQ, Perry) Alumni response: 58% MPS most important courses “Been asked to run in-house MPS workshops” “I use MPS stuff all the time” 18

19 MPS program: effectiveness Recruiter/company response “Come to our company and train us” “We now recruit mainly your graduates” “We only recruit from you because grads from other take 1 ½ years to train hires from other universities.” 19

20 So What? Don’t reinvent the wheel and MPS. Download Objectives Targets Timing Visuals Reflective journals Workshop materials 20

21 Polishing problem solving skill DISCOVERY What is PS? How to polish/improve? 21


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