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How can we use Design-Thinking Process

to improve Problem Solving and Education?

 
This is the home-page for a website – developed by Craig Rusbult (PhD in C&I)* during life on a road less traveled – about Education for Problem Solving.
 
The page begins with an Introductory Overview, to describe educational strategies & activities that we — me and other educators with similar goals, using your ideas and mine,* cooperatively working together — can develop and use, to help students improve their problem-solving skills in all areas of life, by helping them get more experiences (with problem solving) and learn more from their experiences.
 
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     * at the U of Wisconsin, my PhD project was constructing a model for “scientific method” and using this model to help us understand & improve our science education;  since then I've generalized it into a model for Design Process, aka Design-Thinking Process.   {in Twitter my username is @DTprocess}
     * your ideas and mine include your ideas for your school(s) and my ideas for how to use the logically-related family of colorful verbal-and-visual models I've developed (plus other models) to improve our education for creative-and-critical problem solving.
 
K-12 Education:  This website is mostly about education in K-12 schools.  But the ideas also can be useful for younger children in pre-school, or older students in college, and everyone in everyday life.     { who I'm writing for – it's other educators }
 

{ contact-email:  craigru178-att-yahoo-daut-caum }
 Links with shading (gold or green) go to sections 
in the Short Overview or Longer Overview.


 
Two Overviews:  Most of this home-page is an Introductory Overview that combines a Short Overview (to help you see “the big picture” by summarizing key ideas) and a Longer Overview (to help you understand more thoroughly-and-accurately).
 

 

Short Overview

 

I'll begin with an overview of the overviews:

The Longer Overview has two parts.   Part 1 is my perspectives on how we can be more effective in using ideas-for-education that are generally accepted.   Part 2 is about Design Process (my model for Problem-Solving Process), explaining what the model is-and-isn't, and how it can be a useful part of an overall strategy for achieving our shared goals in Part 1.

This Short Overview will focus on Part 1, will summarize its main ideas.  But there will be some Part 2, mainly to show how the distinctive features of my model can help us achieve the worthy goals in Part 1.     { you can quickly learn about Part 2 with “learning by discovery” and “learning by discovery + explanations” }

My overall objective in the Introductory Overview (combining Short + Longer) is to explain the strong reasons to conclude that Design Process might be very useful in education, so its possibilities are worth exploring and developing, because (although not proved and not certain) it's “a good way to bet.”

 

 

Transfers of Learning make

education Personally Useful

My ideas will be educationally beneficial IF using Design Process will increase transfers-of-learning Between Areas (in School & in Life) and Through Time (from Present into Future), because these transfers will provide many practical benefits for students.  And IF we can persuade students about this, so they believe that their learning will be personally useful because it will transfer from School into Life, and into their Future — so a student is thinking “when I improve my School-Learning, it will improve my Life-Living, it will help me achieve my goals for Life” — their beliefs will be giving them personal motivations to learn in school.  They will convert their own education into a problem-solving project that will make things better in their own life — because they believe that making their education better will help to make their life better — and they will be motivated to pursue their own personal education.

But there are two IF-conditions, thus two questions:  Why should we expect transfersHow can we persuade students?   These questions are important, and the answers are not obvious.  Therefore the next two sections explain some logical reasons to predict that using Design Process will increase transfers of learning – and will help us persuade students that these transfers are personally useful based on connections between

Wide Scopes (for problem solving) as in "1" below, and

Scientific Knowledge (about transfers) as in "2" below.

 

1 – Two Wide Scopes for Problem Solving:

When we use Design Process (my model for Problem-Solving Process) to design our Education for Problem Solving, we have logical reasons to expect that the result will be very useful for K-12 (but also for younger and older) because with Design Process there is...

 

1-A)  a wide scope for Problem-Solving Activities (these include almost everything people do)

when educators make choices that are educationally effective (because they help us build bridges to motivate students) by choosing to use broad definitions — a problem is any opportunity to make things better, and problem solving occurs whenever we try to make things better — so almost everything we do is a PS-Activity.  And there is...
 

1-B)  a wide scope for Problem-Solving Process (it's similar for almost everything people do)

when it's viewed with Design Process because (in my simplest model) you just Generate Ideas and Evaluate Ideas.

three options:   1) If you're wondering “so what?” – i.e. “what are the educational benefits?” – you can temporarily skip the rest of 1-B (it describes my model and supports my claim about the second wide scope, is the longest section in my Short Overview) by jumping ahead to Scientific Knowledge about Increasing Transfer and Indirect Benefits of Increasing Transfer and then returning to this section later.    2) Or you can understand my model with learning by “discovery” or “discovery + explanations” and    3) you can continue reading about the model-for-process and why...

I claim that our Problem-Solving Process (PS-Process) "is similar for almost everything" because to solve any problem "you just Generate Ideas and Evaluate Ideas."   Or with more detail, during a PS-Process...  you creatively Generate An Idea (for one way to make things better, so it's a possible Problem-Solution, is a possible Solution, is a Solution-Option, is an Option) and you Evaluate This Idea (for This Option);  you continue to Generate-and-Evaluate until you choose an Option (to be your Solution) and actualize this Option (with actions that convert your Option-Idea into a Solution-Reality).

And also because – when we examine Generate-and-Evaluate more closely – we see how the essential PS-Actions of Design Process are what a person actually does during their PS-Process (so the model is an accurate description),* and their simple PS-Actions can be combined in many different ways while they are flexibly coordinating their process by making strategic goal-directed Action Decisions about “what to do next.”  The flexible goal-directed improvising of their PS-Process is analogous to the flexible goal-directed improvising of a hockey player.  {but not the rigid choreography of a figure skater}

When a person combines their simple Actions into simple Sequences-of-Actions they are using a modular process-of-solving that's analogous to the modular process-of-building when a few kinds of simple Lego Bricks are used to build many different complex structures.  The flexible modularity of Design Process shows us how a person can customize their PS-Process for each different PS-Situation.  People use a PS-Process that is "similar [but not identical] for almost everything we do" because each PS-Process is a variation (flexibly improvised with modular coordinating) on a basic theme (of combining the simple Actions) when the same Actions are used in different sequential combinations.    {more about The Wide Scope of PS-Process}

 

* What are the essential PS-Actions?   After you choose a Problem (it's what you want to make better) and define Goals (for the characteristics you want in a satisfactory Solution), you first Generate an Option that is a possible Solution.   Then you Evaluate This Option, in two steps:   Evaluation, Step 1) you get information about the characteristics of This Option (that I'll simply call "     ") by imagining “what will happen if I do      ” to make Predictions;  or you remember “a past situation that is similar to      ” and remember old Observations of what did happen;  or you “do      ” and make new Observations of what does happen.   Evaluation, Step 2) you think about your Predictions (of what will happen) or old Observations (of what did happen) or new Observations (of what does happen), and you ask “is this what I want to happen?”, i.e. you compare Goals with Predictions or you compare Goals with Observations.   When you ask “is this what I want?” and answer “yes”, you then ask “will I choose this Option to be my Problem-Solution?”   But when you answer “no”, you then ask “how can I modify       to get a closer match between what will happen (or did happen, or does happen) and my Goals for what I want to happen?” so you can Generate a New Option.

3 Elements (Predictions, Observations, Goals) used in 3 Evaluative Comparisons, during General Design and Science-Designtwo kinds of design:   During a process of General Design you compare Goals with Predictions (or compare Goals with Observations) and ask “how close is the match?” when you want to make something better.   And during a process of Science-Design, you compare Predictions with new Observations and ask “is there a close match, or am I surprised?” when you want to get a better understanding of “how the world works.   /   My model-for-process accurately describes these two kinds of design,* and – by showing how we use 3 Elements (Predictions & Observations, Goals) in 3 Comparisons – it logically integrates the two kinds of design.  This intrinsic integration makes Design Process conceptually useful, because it's a model that helps us understand how people use a similar problem-solving process for almost everything we do, for General Design and also Science-Design.

* This descriptive accuracy is educationally useful because during a student's PS-Activities they are actually doing the PS-Actions described in my model for Design Process.  Therefore when we ask students to Reflect on their Experiences (to think about what they did) they will observe these PS-Actions, and they can self-discover the Principles of PS-Process (of combining PS-Actions) that are logically organized in Design Process.     {when students do "Experience + Reflection → Principles" they are using a Process-of-Inquiry to discover Principles-for-Inquiry}

 

2 – Scientific Knowledge about Increasing Transfer:

Some logical reasons to expect that using Design Process will increase transfer come from How People Learn: Brain, Mind, Experience, and School (a highly respected book, commissioned by the National Research Council, about using educational research to improve educational practice) when – after saying "the ultimate goal of learning" is transfer, so it's "a major goal of schooling" – the authors recommend that to increase transfer, we should:

2-A)  teach knowledge in multiple contexts, and...  1-A) this is allowed by the wide scope of Problem-Solving Activities that includes almost everything students do;

2-B)  teach knowledge in an easily-generalizable form, and...  1-B) this can be done by using Design Process to show students the wide scope of Problem-Solving Process that is similar for almost everything they do, for most of their Problem-Solving Activities in all areas of life.

 


 

Indirect Benefits of Increasing Transfer, with

Personal Education and Educational Bridges:

Based on what we know about how people learn (as described above), we should expect Design Process to help increase transfers Across Areas (between subjects in School and areas in Life) and Through Time (from Past to Present into Future).  When this happens,...

Students will get direct benefits with increased transfers of learning, when they improve their problem-solving abilities (and other abilities) in a wider variety of situations, in their School-Life & NonSchool-Life.  (note: I often simplify these terms to School & Life, although both are important parts of their Whole-Life)  (of course, Whole-Life = School-Life + NonSchool-Life)   These direct benefits produce changes in their external reality, in their abilities to learn and perform.   {they can improve their learning AND performing}

And there will be indirect benefits IF we can persuade students – by showing them the two wide scopes of Problem Solving, for PS-Activities & PS-Process – to believe that their Problem-Solving Activities in School will be personally useful in Life.  We want students to be motivated because they are thinking “when I improve in School NOW, this will help me improve in Life LATER.” (where "later" is after school today, and next year, and when they're an adult)   These indirect benefits are a result of changes in the internal thinking of students.

Motivations for Personal Education:  We want to help students develop personal motivations to pursue their personal goals by using personal education that is proactive problem solving when they decide “I want to solve a problem by making my education better because this will make my life better, will help me achieve my goals for life.”

Motivations from Building Bridges:  We can use the wide scopes of PS-Activities & PS-Process to help students expect transfers (with their internal thinking) and actualize these transfers (in their external realities).  We can help them build bridges – in their expectations for what will occur, and the realities of what does occur – with transfers Across Areas (from School-Life into NonSchool-Life) and Through Time (from their Present into their Future).  These bridges can improve their Transfers of Learning (Across Areas, Thru Time) and also their Transitions of Attitudes (by improving their motivations for wanting to learn, and their confidence in being able to learn).    {more about building bridges and encouraging transitions of attitudes}

 


Now we'll shift from the WHY (of Using Design Process) to some WHAT-and-HOW.


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Improving Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion:

Student Diversity:  All students are similar in the most important ways, but each has a personal history that makes them unique.  Each has their own complex blend of abilities they inherit, plus attitudes (like motivations & confidences) and skills (using multiple “intelligences” in many areas of life) they develop, with personal growth (mental, emotional, social, physical) affected by characteristics (gender, race,...) and situations (produced by family, friends, community, school) in their whole-life experiences (in school and outside).

Activity Diversity:  There are logical reasons to conclude that "we should try to design eclectic instruction by creatively combining the best features of different approaches into a synergistic blend that produces an optimal overall result (a greater good for a greater number) in helping students achieve worthy educational goals."  One reason is that, due to many kinds of diversity, some students will experience more success in problem-solving activities than in other activities, and they will enjoy the emotional & motivational rewards of success.  But some won't.  We want to minimize those who "won't" so we should be...

Designing for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion:  We want to design activities that provide opportunities for all students to succeed, and help more students succeed, so more will experience the benefits (in school & life) of success.  We want to design curriculum & instruction (including activities) that actually does help more students, with wider diversity, more fully actualize their whole-person potentials.  We should try to “open up the options” for all students, so each will say “yes, I can do this” for a wider variety of subject-options in school and career-options in life, so they are able to choose wisely by asking “among my many options in school & life, what are the goals I want to pursue (and the roads I want to travel) so I can build a better life?”  

 

Goal-Directed Designing

of Curriculum & Instruction:

To use this problem-solving strategy, we...

DEFINE GOALS for desired outcomes of our CURRICULUM, for ideas-and-skills we want students to learn,

DESIGN INSTRUCTION with learning activities (and associated teaching activities) that will provide opportunities for experience with these ideas & skills, and will help students learn more from their experiences.

 

a Coordinated Wide-Spiral Curriculum

has Wide Scope with Spiral Repetitions:

The wide scope of problem solving (it includes almost everything students do) lets teachers use problem-solving activities in all subject areas — in sciences & engineering, business, humanities, and arts, in STEAM and beyond, in an ideas-and-skills curriculum with wide scope — so in every area students can have similar experiences with Problem-Solving Process, using a process of General Design and/or Science-Design that they can adapt to match their problem-solving Objectives.  These experiences can be part of a wide spiral curriculum that spans many grades in K-12, that has wide scope (so related learning experiences are coordinated across different areas) and uses spiral repetitions (so learning experiences are coordinated over time) to help all students (of all ages) improve their problem-solving skills and their basic skills & knowledge.     {more:  Goal-Directed Designing of a Wide-Spiral Curriculum – What, Why, Who, How – using instruction spirals that are short-term narrow, short-term wide, long-term wide.}

combining Problem-Solving Skill and Subject-Area Knowledge:  The beginning of my simplest model for Design Process is to "learn so you understand more accurately-and-thoroughly," because productive problem solving is the result of effectively combining creative-and-critical thinking with relevant knowledge.  Thus, one benefit of better subject-area knowledge is better problem-solving skills.  IF students want to improve their problem-solving skills – because they believe this will improve their lives – and IF they think improved knowledge will help them improve their skills, THEN they will be motivated to improve their knowledge, as part of their personal education.   /   In our whole-person goals for education, problem-solving skills should supplement – not replace – basic skills of reading & math, and knowledge in sciences, history, social studies, literature.    {and we can help students use Design Process to develop-and-use thinking strategies for how to learn basic skills & knowledge more effectively, as in strategies for Self-Regulated Learning.} 

 

Instruction — Activities ( Fun and Useful )

We want to design Problem-Solving Activities that are FUN for students, and personally USEFUL for them, with...

    FUN intrinsically when a student enjoys the experience because they think the problem-topic is interesting, and their own actions are interesting.  This will stimulate their curiosity, can inspire a love of learning.
   
FUN due to satisfaction when a student anticipates success, and does succeed.  We want to help students develop a growth mindset.  One part of this is aiming for a “just right” level of challenge, like a good mystery story, so they won't be bored (if too easy) or discouraged (if too difficult), so they will be challenged but will succeed and will enjoy the satisfactions of success.    {more about levels}
    USEFUL as defined by a student who thinks it will be personally useful, will help them achieve their personal goals.  We can try to understand students (with empathy), and then consider their goals when defining our goals, to guide our goal-directed designing of their activities.  We want them to think “this school-activity will be a useful part of my personal education, will help me achieve my personal goals for life.”

 

present-to-future Transfers

by using a Growth Mindset

An excellent way to learn more effectively is by developing-and-using a better growth mindset so — when you ask yourself “how well am I doing in this area of life?”* and honestly answer “not well enough” — you are thinking “not yet” (instead of “not ever”) because you are confident that in this area you can “grow” by improving your skills, when you invest intelligent effort in your personal education.  An effective growth mindset combines honest accuracy (in self-perception) with reasonable optimism (about being able to grow & improve).

* A reason to ask “how well am I doing?” is to learn from experience.  When I make a mistake, I want to learn from the experience so I can “do it better” the next time.  Therefore I ask myself “why?” and often the answer is “my process wasn't effective,” so (in an effort to do better) I've found that it's beneficial to develop-and-use a Checklist for Problem Solving.

 

present and/or future, with

Performing and/or Learning:

When you want your best possible performance now, you have a Performance Objective.  When you want your best possible learning now, so you can improve your best possible performance later, you have a Learning Objective.  For example, compare a basketball team's early-season practice (with a Learning Objective, wanting to learn NOW so they can perform better LATER) and late-season tournament game (with a Performance Objective, wanting to play their best NOW).   /   It's "and/or" because your highest priority can be to maximize your learning now, or your performing now, or both.     { more about performing and/or learning and two ways – re: past & present – to perform better }

 
[[ eventually there will be sections about my "family of models" leading to why-and-how we should be... ]]

 

Combining different Models-for-Process

Instead of “my model versus other models” I think we should be inventing creative strategies to effectively combine models, so it's “my model plus other models.”  We can design instruction to include different models so our models interact in ways that are synergistically supportive – that make the combination of models better than any single model by itself – because Design Process (DP)...

• is similar to other models — with basic agreement about the thinking & actions that are productive, that are useful for making progress in a creative-and-critical process of problem solving — so DP is educationally compatible with other models and it “plays well” with them.  DP can be smoothly blended into most systems of instruction, using common methods for teaching inquiry, whether the instruction currently does or doesn't use another model.

• is distinctive in important ways,* so it offers added value;  it can be especially valuable in a well-designed combination of models, contributing to a synergism that provides extra benefits for students.

Together it's “yes and” with “yes” due to agreement-similarities, with “and” for distinctive added value.

 

* Here are two distinctive features of Design Process:

DP includes Design and Science:  Design Process is especially useful because the core of its evaluation-logic (when 3 Elements are used in 3 Comparisons) leads naturally to it being used for both General Design (aka Design, the usual term) and Science-Design (aka Science, usually).  By contrast, most other models are for a process of either Design or Science, but not both.  Hopefully the smooth integrating of design-with-science in my model can help students develop a smooth integrating of design-with-science in their thinking while they're solving problems.     {more about the differences when comparing my model for Design-AND-Science with other models that are Design-OR-Science}

DP is modular:  Another distinctive of Design Process (DP) is how its modularity encourages a flexibly customized coordinating of problem-solving process.*  DP describes our problem-solving process with short-term Actions (and connecting these to form short-term Sequences) but other models typically describe longer-term Phases that contain the shorter-term Actions & Sequences of DP;  using DP can help students understand how their creative-and-critical productive thinking happens during the short-term Actions & Sequences of DP.  And because the models operate at different “levels” it's less likely that they will compete with each other to perform the same teaching-function(s) during instruction;  instead we can use the different models for different functions, so they will be supportive instead of competitive, with each contributing to the instruction.*   For thinking about DP's modularity, a useful analogy is using LEGO Bricks (in DP) to make LEGO Objects (with other models, at their larger “level of operation”),  or using small atoms & molecules (in DP) to form larger objects (with other models).     {* Wikipedia says "modularity is the degree to which a system's components may be separated and recombined, often with the benefit of flexibility and variety in use." }

* Structures and Strategies:  Typically a model-for-process is educationally useful in two ways, by providing structures (for instruction) and strategies (for thinking).  Each model has its own structures & strategies, so each offers its own benefits for students.  When we effectively combine the structures & strategies from two (or more) models, we combine their benefits.

 

[[ iou – I'll continue developing this Short Overview during Oct 28-31. ]]

 


 

 

Longer Overview

The ideas outlined above (in a Short Overview) are examined in more depth below, to help you understand more thoroughly-and-accurately.

 

The Wide Scope of Problem-Solving Activities

When we decide to think freely, to reject being un-necessarily restricted by rigid un-creative thinking, we can use broad definitions:  a problem is an opportunity to make things better in any area of life, and whenever you try to make things better you are problem solving, so your problem-solving experiences include almost everything you do in life.*   This wide scope makes it easier for teachers to find problem-solving activities (= problem-solving experiences) that are fun and life-relevant, that will help students improve their problem-solving skills for everyday living.  And it lets us build two-way educational bridges between school and life, to increase the motivations of students.  Because solving problems (by making things better) is useful in all areas of life, improved problem-solving skills are useful in all areas, producing (with widespread agreement) many benefits that improve our quality of life.

* The wide scope (including almost everything) occurs because a problem-solving objective can be a decision to improve a product, activity, relationship, strategy, and/or theory.  Or you can classify-and-label objectives in a different way that's a better fit for your educational situation, that will motivate more of your students to improve their own personal education so with personal problem solving they can "make things better" in their own lives.

 

In another broad definition, education is learning from life-experiences.  We can produce better education, with better learning, when students get more experiences and we help them learn more from their experiences.  Because we want students to have problem-solving experiences that are better for learning, their...

 

Problem-Solving Activities should be FUN and USEFUL:   We want to develop activities that are fun for students, and will be useful for them.

Students doing Design Thinking    • FUN in Two Ways:   An activity will be fun when students enjoy the experience – due to the intrinsic nature of the activity (because the problem-objective is interesting for them, and so are their own actions)* – AND when they anticipate success & do succeed.  We can help students increase their anticipating-and-actualizing of success by using a series of activities with gradually increasing appropriate difficulty,* aiming for levels of challenge that are always “just right” with a well-designed problem (as in a well-written mystery story) so students won't be bored if it's too easy, or discouraged if it's too difficult, so they will be challenged but they will succeed and will enjoy the satisfaction of success.     {* when a problem is interesting it will stimulate their curiosity, providing intrinsic motivation that reinforces with their humanly-innate love of learning, and if repeated experiences show them “learning is fun” they will develop a desire for lifelong learning that's driven by their continuing curiosity.}    {an average level-of-difficulty can be increased in a progression, and the level can be adjusted for individual students with adaptive computer technologies, or customized guiding by a teacher, and in other ways.}

    • USEFUL for Students  We want activities to be educationally useful for students, and this means personally useful for them, with "useful" defined by their goals.  We should try to understand the goals of students – by learning their perspectives, thinking with empathy – so we can use their goals to guide our goals for their education, in our goal-directed designing of their problem-solving activities and (in broader planning) their curriculum & instruction.  When we effectively use two wide scopes – for problem-solving objectives and process – we can show students how their problem-solving skills will transfer from school into their lives.  If they believe that these transfers will occur, we can build educational bridges that motivate them to pursue their own...

Personal Education:   We can help students develop personal motivations to pursue their personal goals by using education, so they make it their personal education.  We can ask students to think about their personal goals for life, and help them develop a proactive problem-solving approach for their own personal education when they ask “how can I solve a problem – by making my education better so I can make my life better – by learning more from my experiences, both inside & outside school, to make things better for myself (and for others),* to help me achieve my goals for life?”   /   * With whole-person education we can help students develop virtuous goals that will promote long-term deep satisfactions because they have win-win goals in life, wanting to make things better for themselves and also for other people.     {students with stories - personal diversity & activity diversity for success}

 

Two Wide Scopes – for Activities and Process:  A student will be more motivated to pursue their own personal education when – by using Design Process – we show them the wide scopes of Problem-Solving Activities (that include almost everything they do in their school-life and non-school-life) AND of Problem-Solving Process (that is similar for almost everything they do).  These two wide scopes help us...

 

Build EDUCATIONAL BRIDGES

Students doing Design ThinkingMy simplest model for problem-solving Design Process* – showing how we Define a Problem and then try to Solve this Problem by creatively Generating Ideas and critically Evaluating Ideas – helps us show students how they use a similar process of problem solving for almost everything they do in life, in their school-life and nonschool-life.  This broad scope lets us build two-way bridges for students – from life into school, and school into life – that will improve their transfers of learning (inside & outside school) and transitions of attitudes (by improving their motivations for wanting to learn, and their confidence in being able to learn).    {more about building bridges}

* my models range from simple to more-complete, with each model being educationally useful in different ways.    {using Models-for-Process}

 

Building Bridges with a Wide-Spiral Curriculum:  One effective way to build bridges is with a Goal-Directed Designing of Curriculum & Instruction — by Defining Goals for desired outcomes (for ideas-and-skills we want students to learn) and Designing Instruction (to give students useful experiences, and help them learn more from their experiences) — to design a wide spiral curriculum that has wide scope (so related learning experiences are coordinated across different areas) and uses spiral repetitions (so learning experiences are coordinated over time).    {more}

 

Building Bridges between

Problem-Solving Skill and

Subject-Area Knowledge:

The beginning of my simplest model for Design Process is to "learn so you understand more accurately-and-thoroughly," because productive problem solving is the result of effectively combining creative-and-critical thinking with relevant knowledge.  Thus, one benefit of better subject-area knowledge is better problem-solving skills.  IF students want to improve their problem-solving skills – because they believe this will improve their lives – and IF they think improved knowledge will help them improve their skills, THEN they will be motivated to improve their knowledge, as part of their personal education.   /   In our whole-person goals for education, problem-solving skills should supplement – not replace – basic skills of reading & math, and knowledge in sciences, history, literature, social studies.    {and we can help students use Design Process to develop-and-use thinking strategies for how to learn basic skills & knowledge more effectively, as in strategies for Self-Regulated Learning.} 

 
 
my philosophy of writing:   Education is complex.  In order to understand it more thoroughly & accurately, many ideas are useful.  In this Longer Overview I'm not “keeping it short & simple” by eliminating useful ideas;  instead I'm just aiming for high ratios of my ideas/words and your learning/time.

 
In this Longer Overview the basic ideas (above) are explored in depth (below), after I explain the differing purposes of...
 

Part 1 and Part 2:   In the Longer Overview, Part 1 is my perspectives on how we can be more effective in using ideas-for-education that are generally accepted, that you (as an experienced educator) already know and accept, so while you're reading it you probably are thinking “yes” because you mainly agree.*  Part 2 is about my Model for Problem-Solving Process, with ideas that I'm confident can be a useful part of an overall strategy for achieving the worthy goals in Part 1.

two purposes:  I want to work with other educators, so I'm hoping that while reading Part 1 you'll be thinking “Craig is one of us, is with us and for us, he understands.”  And during Part 2, “he is a little different, with innovative ideas (about how we can verbally-and-visually describe familiar actions) for ‘added value’ that could be useful, and working with him will help us improve our education, so we should combine our understandings and skills.”  Or maybe you'll want to just use the ideas, without me, working among yourselves.

* Sometimes you see my ideas (about goals, factors, strategies & actions,...) and think “yes” because you mainly agree, or you may think “yes, and...” by adding your ideas, or “yes, but...” when you mainly agree but not in all ways, so you think modified ideas would be better, or even “no because...” and all of these responses can be useful in a collaboration.

 

Part 1 begins above (with "basic ideas") and continues below with "Working Together" in the green box.

Part 2 begins with opportunities for Discovery Learning when you explore my models for Problem Solving;  then I explain what the Model is (and isn't), and its benefits for students, and how we can use it – along with other models – to improve our Education for Problem Solving.

options:  You can continue with the rest of Part 1 below, or (if you want) jump to Part 2.

 
 

options for viewing:  You can "put [this] page into left frame" (if it isn't there now) by using the top-of-page link or the link below.  It's useful to have left & right frames – and therefore it's recommended – because most links open in the right-side frame, which lets you read a linked-to section without losing your place in this left frame.  But if you're viewing on a small-screen tablet or phone, you may want to "open only this page" and then usually a link will open in its own new window.

 

Part 1:   (but it's actually “Part 1b” with a
continuing of explorations that began earlier)
 

Working Together to Improve Education

by combining our Understandings & Skills

I want to work – as a free volunteer (an informal consultant) – with other educators to develop our ideas (yours and mine) for how to help students improve their creative-and-critical thinking skills and their effective using of problem-solving process in all areas of life.  I think many other educators also are deciding (like I have) that strategies for improving our problem-solving education are worth developing and (by converting our strategy-ideas into classroom-actions) actualizing.  To do this developing-and-actualizing, collaboration is necessary because although I have some understandings and skills, I need help from other educators who (by learning from their experiences) have developed their own understandings and skills.

I recognize that compared with me, many others have deeper understandings of...  classroom teaching and student attitudes & behaviors, motivations & confidences;   and the educational culture that is created by people (students, teachers, administrators, parents, community) who feel & think & do, individually and together, to produce the systems ecology and learning atmosphere in our schools;   and how these cultures-ecologies-atmospheres are experienced differently, and have different effects, on students with differing backgrounds;   and how we can develop evidence-based strategies that are more effective for improving diversity and equity in our schools.   Or they have developed practical skills in finding and/or designing fun problem-solving activities (involving challenges, games, mysteries,... plus discussions) and doing them in fun ways.  Or in coordinating the activities of many teachers into a synergistically beneficial wide-spiral curriculum.  And they have the authority to decide (in their positions as teachers, curriculum developers, administrators) that “yes, we'll do these activities.”

Earlier I explain how Part 1 is mostly "ideas that you already know well," and you're thinking “yes” or “yes, and” or “yes, but” or “no because”.  My main goal in writing Part 1 is to describe a “common ground” for us, where we mostly agree (although with some differences) about shared goals that we can pursue with strategies-and-actions;  for doing this, typically your understandings and skills will be more useful than mine.   But in Part 2, hopefully you'll see how my understandings and skills will be useful when we're working together, because my models (in Part 2) can help us achieve our goals (in Part 1).  With collaborations that combine our understandings and skills, together we can build a creative community for the purpose of pursuing shared goals, working cooperatively to design goal-directed curriculum & instruction that is a better match for how students like to learn (and are able to learn), and how teachers like to teach.     { it's important to consider "how teachers [and schools] like to teach" because Teachers Have Rational Reasons to Not Teach Thinking Skills }

When we're "pursuing shared goals," maybe one goal could be teaching Principles for Problem-Solving Process.  Maybe.  You can think about what your school is now, and how you would like it to change, and ask...  What kinds of problem-solving “inquiry experiences” should our school (or my classroom) provide for students?  How can we help them learn more from their experiences? will we supplement their Experiences (of Doing Inquiry) with Reflections (on their Experiences), to teach Principles (for Doing Inquiry), so they have Experience + Reflection → Principles?   Will we organize these Principles into a Model for Problem-Solving Process?  if yes, why? (i.e. what are the educational benefits of organizing Principles into a Model?)   Will we use the Model-for-Process that has been constructed by Craig?  and if “yes” will we combine his Model with other Models?   These questions are examined below in "4 Levels..."

 

a review & summary:  As explained earlier, my goal is "to help students improve their problem-solving skills in all areas of life."  How?  I want to work as an enthusiastic volunteer (willing to be an unpaid “educational consultant”) with other dedicated educators.  I'm enthusiastic about education (our learning from experience) that is a wonderful essence of life.  I like my ideas – I think they're interesting, will be useful – and want to see my ideas actualized in practical ways, by combining them with your ideas, working together to achieve your goals.

 


 

4 Levels of Problem-Solving Activities:   During their school activities a student can have Experiences (of Doing Inquiry with Design-Inquiry and/or Science-Inquiry when they are solving problems), and do Reflections (on their Experiences), and learn Principles (for Doing Inquiry) like those in my models-for-process, with a possible result of Experiences + Reflections → Principles.  For each aspect of problem-solving Inquiry, a classroom teacher can decide Yes or No, choosing whether to add Experience and Reflection and Principles.  Their choices about ERP lead to 4 levels of Problem-Solving Activities, by giving students no Experiences;  or only Experiences;  or Experiences + Reflections;  or (as I think is best) Experiences + Reflections + Principles.     {* of course, students can get “E's and R's and P's” on their own, so this table shows only teacher-planned E's and R's "in a classroom", and explicitly-taught P's.}

 0 
no Experiences (in a classroom)*
1
 Experiences   
2
 Experiences +Reflections
3
 Experiences +Reflections+Principles 
 

Earlier I describe some questions you can ask — about ERP-Activities {do you want none, or only-E, or E+R, or E+RP?} and Principles {is Experience-plus-Principles better than only-Experience?  and is it useful to organize Principles-for-process into a Model-for-process?} — and here are my responses:

If students use my Model of Design Process (in a system of Experience + Reflection → Principles), will this help them develop a better understanding of problem-solving process?  Certainly.  But... will this improved understanding-of-process help students improve their doing-of-process?  Probably.

Why just "probably" instead of Yes or No?  Because currently I don't know enough about evidence for (or against) a claim that a better understanding of thinking-process (gained by using a model for thinking-process) will help students improve their performing of thinking-process.  And I'm certain there is no empirical data about the effects of using Design Process, because it has never been used (afaik) in a classroom or school.  But in a section about why educators should use Design Process I explain why many benefits for students should be expected, with realistically-optimistic predictions based on what we know about thinking (including the cognition & metacognition that students regulate with thinking strategies for learning and/or performing) and transfers of learning plus motivations to learn & confidence about learning and visually-logical organizing of knowledge and more.  Based on what we know, we should expect an effectively-designed combination of “experience plus reflection-and-principles” to be more educationally effective than experience by itself, to help students improve their creative-and-critical thinking skills and their whole-process skills when they are solving problems (with General Design) and understanding the world (with Science-Design).  And we have reasons to expect that when Principles are organized into a Model (like my Model for Design Process) this will be useful for education, so the possibilities are worth exploring and developing.

 


 

• Learning for Their Future:   We can help students want to learn for their future, to invest in their own personal education.  How?  Teachers can build-and-use educational bridges to promote transitions of attitudes (for improved motivation & confidence) and transfers of ideas-and-skills to different situations (this is the usual meaning of transfer) and also (in the essential purpose of education) between different times.  With a transfer-of-learning from past to present, the ideas & skills you learned in the past are helping you now. {imagine that "you" are a student who is learning for their future}   With a transfer-of-learning from present to future, what you're learning now will help you in the future.  Maya Angelou described how your learning (in the past and present) affects your performance in the present & future, now & later:  Based on what you've learned in the past, you "Do the best you can [now] until you know better. Then [later] when you know better, do better."  How?  Later, when you have learned from experience (you have been educated) so you "know better," you can "do better."  When you learn, in your future you can be more effective in "making things better," and this improved problem-solving skill will be a beneficial result of your education, of your learning from experience in the past.

 

• present and/or future – Performing and/or Learning:   When you want your best possible performance now, you're on-task with a Performance Objective.  When you want your best possible learning now, so you can improve your best possible performance later, you're on-task with a Learning Objective.  How do you improve your future performing?  Maya Angelou says "when you know better, [you] do better."  This "do better" happens in two ways.  First, you will "know better" because you have learned from experience, so your potential performing has improved, and you can do better.  Second, this potential must be actualized by converting “can do better” into “are doing better” with high-quality actual performing.   /   a summary:  After your past learning has improved your present potential performing, this potential (in principle, as a possibility) to “do it better” will be actualized (in reality) when you do present actual performing with high quality.  You combine past learning with present performing.

Why is "and/or" in the title of this section?  Because when you're doing an action, you can try to maximize your learning now, or your performing now, or both.  For example, think about the goals for a basketball player, and team, during an early-season practice (when the main goal is to learn better now, to prepare for their future, so they can perform better later) compared with a late-season tournament game (when the main goal is to perform better now, in their present), and how this difference-in-objective affects everything.   /   trade-offs between now & later:  Sometimes it's useful to tolerate a decrease in present performance (short-term excellence, now) if this will increase future performance (for long-term excellence, later), as in changing my tennis backhand.    {more about performing and/or learning and/or enjoying and student motivations from short-term enjoyings and long-term satisfactions}

   

• present-to-future transfer with Growth Mindset  One of the best ways to learn more effectively is by developing-and-using a better growth mindset so — when you ask yourself “how well am I doing in this area of life?”* and honestly answer “not well enough” — you are thinking “not yet” (instead of “not ever”) because you are confident that in this area of life (as in most areas, including those that are most important) you can “grow” by improving your skills, when you invest intelligent effort in your personal educationAn effective growth mindset combines honest accuracy (in self-perception) with reasonable optimism (about being able to grow & improve).

* A reason to ask “how well am I doing?” is to learn from experience, to self-educate yourself.  Personally, I like to learn.  When I make a mistake, I want to learn from the experience so I can “do it better” the next time.  Therefore I ask myself “why?” and often the answer is “my process wasn't effective,” so (in an effort to do better) I've found that it's beneficial to develop-and-use a Checklist for Problem Solving.

 

area-to-area transfers,

from School into Life:

I claim that a major benefit of using Design Process will be transfers of problem-solving skills between areas, AND that if we can persuade students about this claim – so they think their learning in school-areas will transfer into life-areas – they will be motivated to pursue their own personal education by adopting a problem-solving goal of making their own education better, because they are imagining how improving their present School-Learning will improve their future Life-Living.

Is this claim-for-transfer justified?  I think “yes” due to logic:

A highly respected book — How People Learn: Brain, Mind, Experience and School, commissioned by the National Research Council to help teachers convert educational research into effective educational practice — says "the ultimate goal of learning" is transfer, so it's "a major goal of schooling," and two of their recommendations (based on scientific research about learning) are that to increase transfer, we should:  A) teach knowledge in multiple contexts, and   B) teach knowledge in a form that can be easily generalized.  There are logical reasons to expect that both of these can be improved by using Design Process:

iou – late this week, October 28-29, I'll continue developing-and-revising this section:

A) When we are creative instead of restrictive and we define a problem as any opportunity to make things better, our problem-solving activities can include almost everything in life.  This wide scope lets our students do problem-solving activities in multiple contexts, to increase transfers of problem-solving skills.    { And it helps us build bridges to increase motivations of students when they believe that – due to transfers from school into life – improving their School Life NOW will improve their Whole Life LATER. }

B) problem-solving process is similar for all problem-solving objectives (so it's easily generalized) -- bringing all Problem-Solving Activities closer together, converting to Near Transfer -- if by using Design Process we are teaching knowledge (the Principles of Problem Solving) in a form that is easily generalized,

IF these claims of How People Learn (about A & B) are justified – and “yes” is the conclusion of most experts in the field of Learning Transfer – and IF my claims (about A & B) are justified, THEN we can logically predict that using Design Process should help a student transfer their problem-solving skills Across Areas (from their School-Life into their Whole-Life) and Through Time (from Past to Present and into their Future). --- proof & good way to bet (@ powerpoint)

{ We also can help students develop-and-use metacognitive thinking strategies for increasing transfer. }

Personal Education:   We can help students develop -- A student is thinking “a better Education NOW will help me have a better Life LATER.”

 

Better Education – More and More:   Your education is your learning from life-experiences so you can learn how to improve, how to become more effective at “making things better” in all areas of your life.  You can produce better education by getting more experiences (Step 1) and (Step 2) learning more from your experiences.  In each step, learning is promoted by developing-and-using a growth mindset so you are expecting to learn from your experiences (with intentional learning), and you are investing the intelligent effort that will help you learn more effectively from all experiences – whether you view the result as a failure or success or (more likely) some of each – in all areas of life.

 

Step 2Learning More from Experiences, with Thinking Strategies:   People often can learn more when we develop-and-use strategies for thinking to effectively regulate our metacognition by deciding when to avoid it or use it, and how.  In a metacognitive reflection activity, a teacher asks students to reflect on – to observe and think about – “what did I do and think?” and “then what happened,” and also “with different actions, could the results have been better?” so they can learn more from the experience and do things better the next time, to improve their performing-learning-enjoying.  Of course, Reflection is the central part of Experience-Reflection-Principles when you're using a process-of-inquiry to help students learn principles-for-inquiry.      {other valuable thinking strategies are Self-Regulated Learning and Coordinating Your Process by Making Action-Decisions}    {more about Cognitive-and-Metacognitive Thinking Strategies and Using Metacognition to Increase Transfer}

 

Thinking Strategies for using Conscious-and-Subconscious:  Scientists have discovered that in many situations of daily life, most of our thinking and decision making is done subconsciously.  Our system of conscious-and-subconcious thinking is a complex integrating of conscious mental cognition with subconscious mental processing.  In this system our subconscious offers benefits (by doing some things extremely well) but also has disadvantages.  You can use executive control to optimize your thinking system (by increasing its benefits and decreasing its disadvantages) if you develop-and-use a variation of the thinking strategy above by replacing metacognition with subconscious processing, so you are “effectively regulating your subconscious by deciding when to minimize it or maximize it.”

How?  You begin by understanding that each kind of thinking (your conscious mental cognition and subconscious mental processing) is strong-and-beneficial in some ways but is weak-and-detrimental in other ways, and using this knowledge effectively.  Then you can develop-and-use thinking strategies by consciously deciding – based on accurate knowledge of principles (about both kinds of thinking) generally, and of yourself specifically – that will help you optimize your thinking system.   /   Why? 

IOU – during November I'll explain (with more thoroughness & clarity) these ideas:

    Earlier I claim that we use a similar process-of-thinking for almost everything we do in life, and I defend this claim because we have a wide range of problem-solving objectives (for a product, activity, relationship, strategy, and/or theory);  but I also must add another claim, that we use a similar process for what we do consciously & subconsciously;  I think this is justifiable IF we define the process generally as in my model's simplest Stage 1 — we Learn (more) so we can Understand (more), Define an Objective (for what we want to make better), Define Goals (for what "better" would be), then creatively Generate Ideas (that are Options for a Problem-Solution) and critically Evaluate Ideas — and then in Stages 2-3 we Evaluate an Option by remembering Observations (of what happened in the past with similar Situations & Options) and imagining Predictions (of what would happen in the future if we actualize this Option);   I claim that our "subconscious thinking" does all of these things when we use it to process information, to learn-understand, define and define, to generate ideas and (by remembering & predicting) evaluate ideas.
    We should try to have conscious control of our subconscious processing, with our Executive Functioning;   you should regulate your subconscious (as with your metacognition) by deciding when to use it, and how;   e.g. Inner Game of Tennis (and of Work-etc, by Tim Gallwey) having some conscious control, but mostly by using the subconscious "tennis player" aspect of you (that has lots of playing experience & muscle memories, that can effectively coordinate the actions of all your body parts plus your eyes & brain) by letting the player do the playing, with minimal hindering by your conscious "tennis teller" giving slow-and-clumsy verbal explanations of how to play;   or effectively using a subconscious process of creative incubation by consciously giving your subconscious mind useful information (knowledge about a problem-situation, and goals for a satisfactory solution), plus an intention to creatively generate ideas for a solution;   you want to promote productive interactions between aspects-modes-levels of thinking that are conscious & subconscious, with your conscious thinking about ideas guiding your subconscious processing of ideas, while you are generating ideas and evaluating ideas.
    possible analogies for relationships between conscious & subconscious:  supervisor & valuable worker;  coach & valuable player;  driver & vehicle;  craftsman & tools;  [plus others?]
    Our subconscious needs supervision because it's "primitive" in its goals, with survival (plus genes-transmission) as primary evolutionary driving forces, and these primitive goal-types don't necessarily produce wise decisions in our modern world;   often they're win-lose (if necessary) instead of aiming for win-win (if possible);   also self-serving motives for psychological self-protection, e.g. reducing cognitive dissonance by using motivated reasoning with bias;  and more.

 

Step 1Getting More Experiences, with Adventuring:   By getting more experiences, you can learn more.  If you're not overly worried about making mistakes when it doesn't matter much – by contrast with “don't make a mistake” situations like mountain climbing or car driving – you can decide to “go for it” in a wider range of situations.  By doing this you'll get a wider range of experiences, with more opportunities for lifelong learning in your personal education.  You'll be using an adventurous “wanting to learn” strategy to increase your experience-and-learning, like Pablo Picasso who wanted to “often be doing what I cannot do now, so I may learn how to do it.”  You also can use this strategy, so you can get more experiences and learn more.  In school, teachers can help students look forward to challenging activities, including their problem-solving adventures, with a growth mindset.  As one aspect of their personal education, we can encourage students to view their experiences as opportunities for intentional learning (defined as "the practice of treating every experience as an opportunity to learn something") and to seek opportunities for learning that will help them achieve their personal goals for life.     {we can learn from both failure and success, as illustrated in activities of solving, improvising, driving, juggling, skiing, backhanding, pronouncing, and welding}    {but... when you try something new, you may wonder if "cannot do now" will become “cannot do ever” so we ask... in a student's thinking & feeling, what are the interactions between an adventurous attitude, with a desire to get more experiences, and a desire to avoid failure?}

 

Getting Useful Experiences  In every classroom, students have stories.  These cause variations, from one student to another, in the usefulness of experience-producing activities that are opportunities for learning.  Although all people are similar in the most important ways, each student has a personal history that makes them unique, with their own distinctives.  The “story” of each student is formed by the complex blending of abilities they inherit, plus attitudes (like motivations & confidences) and skills (using multiple “intelligences” in many areas of life) they develop, with personal growth (mental, emotional, social, physical) affected by characteristics (gender, race,...) and situations (produced by family, friends, community, school) that affect their support (practical & emotional, by family, social groups, school), feelings of love & security, and quality of previous education (re: decisions about instruction by schools, attitudes & actions of teachers and peers,...), with their personal growth affected by their whole-life experiences in their school-life plus nonschool-lifeWe see mutual interactions between psychologies & sociologies in stories of whole persons & their whole communities.   /   By using your own rememberings (of past students) and imaginings (of possible stories, such as a before-and-after story of how a teacher helped make life better for a student) you can see how multiple factors combine to produce a wide variety of student attitudes, abilities & skills, and whole-life situations.  And you can see why, due to this variety, we should think about the beneficial connections between...

Student Diversity and Activities Diversity:   Each student "has a personal history that makes them unique," and some students will experience more success in problem-solving activities than in other kinds of activities.*  The emotional & motivational rewards of success – and we want to promote this for more students, with wider diversity – will improve their self-image, and their motivations for learning if they see their schoolwork as part of a personal education that is personally useful, is motivated and guided by their pursuit of personal goals for life.  We can use our observations — that students differ, and whole-person education has many kinds of goals, and different goals are better taught with different teaching approaches, and each approach has (as in 80-20) diminishing “marginal returns” — plus logic, to conclude that "we should try to design eclectic instruction by creatively combining the best features of different approaches into a synergistic blend that produces an optimal overall result (a greater good for a greater number) in helping students achieve worthy educational goals."    {* and "more success" often co-occurs with “more intrinsic enjoying” for two kinds of fun}   {of course, an eclectic blend should include inquiry activities and also other activities that have been shown to be beneficial for students, based on our experiences}   {more - an overview and 5-step progression}

Improving Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion  Although "some students will experience more success in problem-solving activities than in other kinds of activities," others won't.  We want to design activities that will help more students, with wider diversity, "experience more success."  We want to provide opportunities for all to succeed, and design activities so more will succeed.  While we're designing activities, we should consider the personal histories & current situations of students and we should use the results of experience (first-hand & second-hand) when we have observed the results of different actions – by asking “what was done (by us or by others) and what happened?” – in order to be more effective in promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion.  {a personal perspective: For doing these things, with appropriate humility I recognize that I'll need lots of help from other educators.}   We should design coordinated systems of evidence-based actions — with productive actions at levels ranging from larger scales (for institutions, to improve societal systems & educational systems) to smaller scales (for students, to improve their educational experiences & outcomes, by carefully designing important details of instruction, regarding what is done and how it's done, including interpersonal interactions) — in our efforts to improve the performing and learning of all students.  One kind of productive action is building two-way bridges (past-to-present from Life into School, and present-to-future from School into Life) that will improve transfers of learningin time (past-to-present & present-to-future) and between areas (in school-life & nonschool-life) — and transitions in attitudes by improving student motivations (wanting to learn for personal education) and confidences (expecting to learn, with a growth mindset).  We want to increase transfers & transitions for more students, to help them experience success in school and (the ultimate goal) achieve success in life.  Education should help all students more fully actualize their whole-person potentials.  We want to “open up the options” for all students, so each will say “yes, I can do this” for a wider variety of subject-options in school and career-options in life, so they can choose wisely by asking “among my many options in school & life, what are the roads I want to travel (and the goals I want to pursue) so I can build a better life?”

 
EDUCATIONAL BRIDGES,
now explored more deeply than in
the introductory summary by asking...
Why should we build bridges, and How?
What should the bridges do for students?
 
Why – Some Benefits of Two-Way Educational Bridges:   We can help students improve their motivations and confidence, when we...

build present-to-future bridges from school into life to show students how they are using (and will be using) their improved problem-solving skills for almost everything they do in their life, because the skills they're learning in school transfer into life, helping them "make things better" in life and achieve their goals for life.  When students want to learn in school because they are learning for life, this will improve their Motivations to Learn.    /    What students are learning now in school (and in life),* they will use later in life (and in school, for awhile).*

build past-to-present bridges from life into school to show students that in school they are not learning new skills, instead they are improving familiar skills they have been using in everyday life.  This familiarity can give them confidence when they think “I've done this before in life, so I also can do it in school,” to increase their Confidence about Learning, because they believe – with a Growth Mindset – that they will grow (by improving their skills) when they invest intelligent effort in their learning.    /    What students learned in the past in life (and in school),* they're using now in school (and in life).*     { * each "and" is true because, of course, learning occurs in school and life, and uses-of-learning occur in school & life. }    { school life + nonschool life → whole life and, with my abbreviating, life can mean either nonschool life or whole life }

 
Whyto promote Transfers and Transitions:   The two-way bridges we build can improve...

transfers of learning,  with better transfers of ideas-and-skills to different situations (between school-life & nonschool-life, and within each part of life) and to different times (from past to present, and from present to future) so in addition to helping students improve their current performing, they also (by learning now) can improve their future performing, so they can get more satisfactions now and also later.   /   motivation for time-transfer:  We can help students be motivated so they want better future performing, when we encourage them to do intentional learning for themselves (so it's goal-directed personal education) by defining worthy goals-for-life (to improve themselves and their life-situations) and making practical plans for achieving their goals, by pursuing their goals with effective activities and intelligent effort.   /   Students can be motivated by two kinds of fun in school activities, by experiencing short-term enjoyment & success, and anticipating long-term satisfactions, with satisfactions achieved more effectively when they develop-and-use growth mindsets.   /   We can encourage intentional learning by promoting...

transitions in attitudes,  by improving motivations (to learn) and confidence (about learning) for a broader diversity of students, providing a wider variety of opportunities for learning in school, and success in school.  We can help more students develop their whole-person potentials so they will say “yes, I can do this” for a wider variety of options in their lives, in their career choices (for “what they want to do”) and life choices (for “who they want to be”).

 

What – Goals for Whole-Person Education:   We want to provide whole-person education for whole life, to help students improve their knowledge & skills in many areas of life,* using multiple intelligences.  We want to Define Goals for Knowledge & Skills, so we can Design Instruction using Goal-Directed Activities.  Due to the wide range of possibilities for educational goals, we must ask “how much of our educational resources (time, people, money,...) should be invested in each kind of goal?”    /   * problem-solving skills should supplement – not replace – basic skills of reading/writing & math, and knowledge in sciences, history, literature, social studies.  In fact, an important educational objective is to help students develop-and-use thinking strategies for how to more effectively learn basic skills & knowledge, and Self-Regulated Learning (with Design Process) can help them do this.  Also, one aspect of problem-solving skill is having content-knowledge that is relevant for solving a particular problem, because the productive thinking we use in solving problems (and thus in almost everything we do) combines relevant subject-area knowledge with creative thinking & critical thinking.     {more: thinking about “whole life” for whole-person students, when we're building educational bridges}
 
WhatGoal-Directed Designing of Curriculum & Instruction:   To use this strategy, we...

DEFINE GOALS for desired outcomes of our CURRICULUM, for ideas-and-skills we want students to learn,

DESIGN INSTRUCTION with learning activities (and associated teaching activities) that will provide opportunities for experience with these ideas & skills, and will help students learn more from their experiences.

 
What – Tensions between Ideas and Skills?  
What – Designing a Coordinated Wide-Spiral Curriculum:   The wide scope of problem solving (it includes almost everything students do) lets teachers use problem-solving activities in all subject areas — in sciences, engineering, business, humanities, and arts, in STEAM and beyond, in an ideas-and-skills curriculum with wide scope — so in every area students can have analogous experiences with problem-solving Design Thinking, using a process of General Design and/or Science-Design that adapts to match their problem-solving Objectives.  These experiences can be part of a wide spiral curriculum that has wide scope (so related learning experiences are coordinated across different areas) and uses spiral repetitions (so learning experiences are coordinated over time), for helping all students (of all ages) improve their problem-solving skills and their basic skills & knowledge.     {more:  Goal-Directed Designing of a Wide-Spiral Curriculum – What, Why, Who, How – using instruction spirals that are short-term narrow, short-term wide, long-term wide.}

 

Howby using Broad Definitions and a Simple Model:   We can build bridges...

• by creatively using broad definitions for problem (it's "any opportunity to make things better, in any area of life") and problem solving (it's "whenever you try to make things better") so we can show students that "their problem-solving activities include almost everything they do in life," both inside school and outside school, and

• by logically using my models for Design Process — when students Define a Problem, then try to Solve this Problem with creative-and-critical thinking, by creatively Generating Ideas and (with basic logic) critically Evaluating Ideas — teachers can show students how they use the same basic process to solve problems (to "make things better") in "almost everything they do," in school-life and everyday life, so we can build connecting bridges between school and life.

How can we "show" students the connections between the problem solving they do in school and in life?  One useful teaching strategy is to use...

 

Discovery Learning for Process, with

Experience + Reflection → Principles:   How can teachers help students recognize the problem-solving process they do in everyday life, and are doing in school?  With a series of ERP Discovery-Activities, by using a process of inquiry — with Experience (when students are solving problems, in an activity of Design-Inquiry or Science-Inquiry)* plus Reflections (on their Experience) that help them recognize Principles (for their problem-solving process) — to teach principles for inquiry, to help students improve their process of problem solving.    { Reflection Activities can promote reflection-on-experience individually, and also in discussions with peers & teacher. }   {more about learning by discovery with ERP}

repeated Experiences-and-Reflections:  In a coordinated Wide-Spiral Curriculum that uses Design Process in spiral repetitions (so students have problem-solving experiences in all grades), what a student learns in 1st Grade will affect their “discovery learning” in 2nd Grade, so instruction with ERP will have to be adjusted, especially for Reflections.    {and also adjusted for a student who moves into your school from a school that doesn't use Design Process}

Experience before Principles:   In ERP, notice that E comes before P.  This sequencing is important, so it's emphasized in prominent theories of learning.  And it's supported by abundant evidence in educational research.  Doing E-before-P is one reason that when students are first beginning to do Inquiry Activities (with Design-Inquiry or Science-Inquiry) a teacher can choose to use either of two models – either the simplest model of Design Process or another model – to provide a structure for their “do, think, and learn” inquiry.

* What is inquiry?  Opportunities for inquiry occur whenever a gap in knowledge – in conceptual knowledge (so students don't understand) or procedural knowledge (so they don't know what to do, or how) – stimulates action (mental and/or physical) and students are allowed to think-do-learn.  Of course, activities for doing-thinking-learning go beyond inquiry — because students can do-think-learn when they listen and talk, read and write, question and answer, explore and observe, investigate, analyze, and solve — but include inquiry activities with Design-Inquiry & Science-Inquiry, with Design Thinking.  Due to the wide scope of design, students are using the problem-solving process of Design Thinking for almost everything they do in everyday life and in school, so...

Discovering is Recognizing:   When students are using ERP Activities to observe (and learn from) their own problem-solving actions, instead of discovering they are recognizing.  Because of this focus on their own actions,  Discovery Learning – that actually is Recognition Learning – can work much better for learning-about-process than it does for a learning-of-concepts.    /    This familiarity is why earlier I said that in Part 2 you'll see my "innovative [new] ideas about how we can verbally-and-visually describe familiar [old] actions."   Soon you'll have an opportunity to do your own Discovery Learning, to recognize - and thus discover - useful insights about problem-solving process.

 
 
 
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Part 2 – Using Models for

Problem-Solving Process:

   
My overall Model combines many models-for-process, and below you'll see six of my models – beginning with one from Stage 3 (of 4) in a progression for learning – that provides...

 


 

Action Diagram - showing Evaluation-of-Option with Quality Check by comparing Information (Predictions or Observations) with Solution-Goals... an opportunity for Discovery Learning that is Recognition Learning:   This Actions Diagram – that is part of my Model for Design Process – shows the actions you do while you are Evaluating an Option (for a Problem-Solution) during your process of trying to find a Solution that will achieve the GOALS you want.  You can study this diagram – creatively exploring it by thinking about what each part is (i.e. what action is being done) and how the parts interact and think about your own experiences, asking “what part of my problem-solving process is in each part of the diagram?” and you'll be “Learning by Recognition” as described above.    { what can you do if the diagram is too small? }

a newer version of Action Diagram at left, showing Evaluation-of-Option with two Quality Checks, Predictions-Based and Observations-BasedA similar Action Diagram (at right) is newer, and is better in many ways.  It shows the same actions, but with more information (about how we do Experiments, mentally & physically) and with two extra areas added, at the top and middle.   Also, I changed two terms (for "      Quality Check") because one term was incorrect so the other became ambiguous, and removed "for all design" at the bottom because design includes General Design (shown in the old diagram) and also Science-Design;  later (iou) I'll update the left-side diagram by making these changes.     { an option - you can use these questions to stimulate your thinking }

 

timings and flexibility:   each Actions Diagram shows the multiple actions that occur at different times – not simultaneously – during a process of problem solving.  Therefore a diagram IS NOT a snapshot photo of what is happening at any specific time.  Instead, each multi-action diagram IS like a photo that shows all actions in a time-lapse video of “the action being done now” (at many different times) during an entire process of problem solving.  For each process-of-solving the sequence of actions can be different, because making Action-Decisions about "what to do next" IS analogous to the flexible goal-directed improvising of a hockey player, but IS NOT like the rigid choreography of a figure skater.

 

a family of related modelsa Model  Above you've seen two Action Diagrams;  each is a simplified representation of problem-solving process (is a simplification of the complex thinking that is used by people during our process of solving a problem), so each is a model for problem-solving process.  They are part of “a family of related models” that combine to form my overall Model, as explained later.  All of my models are "related" because they all describe the same process;  but each model emphasizes different aspects of the overall process, and this makes each model educationally useful in a different way.

more opportunities for discovering:   You can explore Stages 1-3 of my Model for Problem-Solving Process (for Design Process) by finding diagrams – two are above (they're for Stage 3b), 3 Elements (Predictions, Observations, Goals) used in 3 Evaluative Comparisons, during General Design and Science-Designone is here (it's a simplified 3b, focusing on how we use Predictions & Observations, Goals), and others are below – and studying them, searching for meaning verbally (in the diagram's words) and visually (in its spatial organization & symbolic colors).  When you then combine your explorations with my explanations, your overall experience will be more enjoyable, and you'll be personally constructing a deeper understanding of problem-solving process.     {also – you can explore by using a page with 11 visually-logical Action Diagrams}

 
Size-Adjusting Options:  If an Actions Diagram is too small, you can right-click on the image, then choose "Open Image in New Tab" so you can adjust its size & location.   Or if this page is in a half-width frame, put it into its own full-width window by using this link or the top-of-page links.   Or sometimes I'll provide links that let you open a diagrams-page in the right-side frame` or (to make it even larger) in its own full-width window.   And you can use a bigger screen, preferably a computer monitor, but at least a laptop or large tablet.

 

making complexity seem simple, by designing a progression of instruction:   Above you studied a complex model that visually-and-verbally (in a diagram) shows the actions a person does while they are Evaluating an Option.  Below the models are more simplified.  While you're seeing-and-reading, you can (as an educator) think about how the simplifications could be useful during a progression of learning, to help students understand – at each stage in the progression – what they are doing (their actions) while they are solving problems.  During a progression of instruction, at each stage you are “keeping it [relatively] simple” to help students understand this stage.  And you are gradually increasing the level-of-complexity they can understand.  The overall result is that eventually students will be able to “cope with complexity” at a higher level, and the complex process-of-solving will seem to be “simple” because they understand it.  When this happens, the complex process has become (in their thinking) a “simplicity” with all of the parts fitting together in a way that intuitively makes sense for them, thus making it logically simple.

logical organization produces educational benefits:   When principles for process (this is procedural knowledge) are verbally-and-visually organized – as in my Model for Design Processthis produces valuable educational benefits in many ways.  And I like the elegant beauties of Design Process, in its simplicity and symmetry.

 

changing two terms:  My old terms for "      Quality Checks" are changed in the newer diagram.  Why?  Because both Q-Checks are done mentally, so each is a "Mental Quality Check" (thus making this term ambiguous) and "Physical Quality Check" is incorrect.  Instead it's more correct to call this an "Observations-Based Quality Check" because even though Goals are being compared with information produced in a Physical Experiment, the comparison is done mentally, not physically.

 


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problem-solving strategies and models

basic 2-Step Cycle of Problem-Solving Processa simple model for how you solve problems:   Much of the time during life, you “just do things” without using any kind of strategy, and often this works well.  But in many situations your problem-solving skills will improve when you use problem-solving strategies.  For example, this Actions Diagram shows how you can decide that you will...

1 – DEFINE a Problem (Learn about a Problem-Situation, Define your Objective,* Define your Goals for a Satisfactory Solution) and...

2 – try to SOLVE this Problem with creative-and-critical thinking by Generating-and-Evaluating Options (for a Problem-Solution that achieves your Goals) when you Generate-and-Evaluate-and-Generate-and-Evaluate-and... (and so on) in repeating Cycles of Design, until you...

3 – actually SOLVE this Problem by Choosing An Option to be a Solution, and Actualizing This Solution with Life-Actions that convert your Potential Solution (i.e. The Option you have chosen) into an Actual Solution.     { iou – Step 3 is not shown on the diagram now, but later it will be. }

 

* Each minute of every day, Defining your Objective is an important step in your practical living.  You have many ways to “make things better” by Choosing an Objective (for The Problem To Solve, for What To Make Better), but your time is limited.  Therefore when you ask “what is the best use of my time now? and later?” you always want to choose wisely because (as Ben Franklin said) "time is the stuff life is made of, so do not squander it."

 

Using a CHECKLIST for Problem-Solving Actions

In the past, when I've made a mistake and then asked “why?” my answer often was “ineffective process” because I had not done some problem-solving action(s) well, or had not even done the action(s).  Often I could have “done it better” and avoided a “did it worse-than-best” mistake, with better process.  Therefore – in an effort to grow by learning from experiences – I've found it beneficial to develop-and-use a Checklist for Problem-Solving Actions.     { with "use" meaning “use consistently” in all relevant areas of life }

How?  The simplest model of Design Process (with 1 2 3) has worked well as a checklist, when I've used it to ask “Have I        

    Defined a worthy Area-of-Life and Problem-Solving Objective?  (would pursuing this problem-solution be a wise use of my time?)
    Learned enough to understand the Problem-Situation?
    Defined Goals for what I want in a Problem-Solution?

    creatively Generated Options for a Solution?
    critically Evaluated these Options?

    Chosen an Option to be a Solution?
    Actualized this Solution with Actions-in-Life?  (to do it and/or make it)
 

Why?  I've received benefits from this checklist — especially when it's used during a Problem-Solving Process (so it's done better) instead of only afterward (so I can just say “oops” and try to do better the next time) — and I think you will, too.  And our students will benefit from checklists when we encourage them to develop-and-use their own lists, and we persuade them about the self-benefits they will produce by doing this.

 

 

SIMPLICITY and SYMMETRY

a Simplicity of Process:   Above you see my simplest model for problem solving, when a person Defines a Problem and tries to Solve this Problem by Generating-and-Evaluating Options (for a Problem-Solution) in iterative Cycles of Design, and then Actualize their Solution.  This simplicity lets a teacher SHOW students how they use a similar process-of-thinking for almost everything they do in life.  This wide scope – and the simplicity of "generate and evaluate" when they solve problems – lets us build educational transfer-bridges between life and school, with transfers (of knowledge & skills) and transitions (of attitudes) in both directions, to improve the problem-solving abilities & confidence & motivations of students, for better diversity & equity in education Later, for deeper understanding, you can help students discover...

Diagram 2a - showing Symmetry of Design Processa Symmetry of Process:   During their process of problem solving, students Design and Do two kinds of experience-producing Experiments (done mentally to make PREDICTIONS & physically to make OBSERVATIONS as shown on the left side & right side of the diagram) so they can Use their PREDICTIONS & OBSERVATIONS by comparing these with GOALS in two kinds of evaluative QUALITY CHECKS that we use during General Design.  In every Check-for-Quality, students are asking (for the Option being evaluated) The Design Question:  “how close is the match between this Option's actual properties (that they have predicted or observed) and their desired Goal-properties?” which is asking “how high is the quality?” because Quality is defined by their Goals for a satisfactory Problem-Solution.  Then they can use Evaluation to guide their GenerationDuring their Guided Generation the differences (between actual properties and desired properties when these are compared in an evaluative Quality Check and this critical Evaluation guides-and-stimulates them to creatively Generate a new Option whose properties will come closer to their Goal.     {also: during Science-Design we do a REALITY CHECK when PREDICTIONS & OBSERVATIONS are compared, as shown by the yellow-green dashed line connecting them, – – – – – }

 

PLAN-and-DO:   During life we usually alternate between Planning and Doing, between Imagining and Actualizing in our Mental Experimenting and Physical Experimenting.

When we Plan-and-Do (as shown in this diagram) an important principle is that Mental Experiments are usually quicker-and-cheaper than Physical Experiments.  So to reduce our investments of time and/or money, we first PLAN by running many quick-and-cheap Mental Experiments — to imagine many possible Experimental Systems (for testing an Option for a Problem-Solution when we're trying to “make things better” by designing a better product, activity, relationship, and/or strategy (in General Design) and/or (in Science-Design) an explanatory theory — while asking “if we do a Physical Experiment with this Experimental System, what kinds of things might happen, and what could we learn that might be interesting or useful?”  Then we DO by choosing an Experimental System and using it to run a Physical Experiment.    {this part of problem-solving process is Experimental Design - overview & details}

 

Self-Regulated Learning is a practical application of Plan-and-Do (and thus of Design Process)* that is especially useful for education.  How?  We show students how to use strategies for Self-Regulated Learning (in the context of Design Process) so they can develop-and-use metacognitive thinking strategies to improve their learning and/or performing.

In this way, students can use their problem-solving skills to improve their learning-and-using of basic skills like reading & math, and their content-knowledge.  Because we want whole-person education for whole students, we want all aspects of our curriculum & instruction – including activities designed to improve problem-solving skills & basic skills & content-knowledge – to be mutually supportive.  Students can use their problem-solving skills to improve their basic skills & knowledge, by using Self-Regulated Learning (plus Design Process) and in other ways.  And their problem-solving skills will improve when they have better basic skills;  and the productive thinking they use for solving problems (and thus for almost everything they do) combines relevant content-knowledge with creative thinking & critical thinking.

* Diagram 2b shows a Cycle of Plan-and-Do (aka Plan-and-Monitor) that's almost identical to a Cycle of Self-Regulated Learning, as explained here.

 

 

Design Process accurately describes how we ask...

Two Questions during Two Kinds of Design

People use different kinds of design, trying to achieve different objectives:  during General Design we're trying to design (to find, invent, or improve) a better product, activity, relationship, and/or strategy;  during Science-Design we're trying to design a better explanatory theory, so we can more accurately understand the what-how-why of reality.    {more about similarities and differences – in objectives & process – between General Design and Science-Design}

3 Elements (Predictions, Observations, Goals) used in 3 Evaluative Comparisons, during General Design and Science-DesignThis diagram shows how we use 3 Elements (Predictions & Observations, Goals) in 3 Comparisons to ask Two Kinds of Questions:

    • The Design Question (used in two Quality Checks during General Design) asks “how close is the match?” when Goals are compared with Predictions or Observations — i.e. “how well would This Option achieve My Goals?” or “how high is its Quality?” with Quality defined by Goals — and

    • The Science Question (used in a Reality Check during Science-Design) asks “am I surprised?” and answers “yes” if there is a mis-match when Predictions & Observations are compared.

But... The Science Question also can be useful during General Design, if the results of a Physical Experiment are surprising because Observations (of an Option's actual properties) are not what you expected, are not a close match with your Predictions (of the Option's actual properties).  When this happens – with an unplanned Reality Check during your process of General Design – is the most common way for people to do science, because...

During everyday life we usually don't design an Experiment to intentionally test (and possibly falsify) one of our many theory-beliefs about “how the world works.”  In fact, we usually don't want to discover that one of our beliefs is wrong, because each of has a psychological preference for retaining our current beliefs.  We often don't want to change a belief so we find ways to defend the belief, even if a Reality Check indicates that we should change it.  Why?  In some areas of life – especially areas that are personally important – we resist change due to a psychological motivation of wanting to reduce our cognitive dissonance.  But even though we rarely try to test our beliefs, we often “do science” unintentionally while we're trying to make things better (with General Design) when we Predict-then-Observe, and are surprised by a mis-match.

Design Process accurately describes the common way we use design-and-science together.  Our everyday “science during life” is naturally explained by the integrative structure of Design Process because the central core of its evaluative logic (when 3 Elements are used in 3 Comparisons) shows the way we naturally do both General Design (aka Design, the usual term) and Science-Design (aka Science, usually) together.  By contrast, most other models describe a process of either Design or Science, but not both.  For example, Science Buddies has one model for Scientific Method and another model for Engineering Design Process.  By contrast, the model of Design Process logically integrates Science with Design, showing us the most common way we use Science during our everyday problem-solving Design and also in the technical problem-solving Design of engineering or business.  Here is my model, and their models:

 
3 Elements (Predictions, Observations, Goals) used in 3 Evaluative Comparisons, during General Design and Science-Design   Science Buddies - model for Scientific Method   Science Buddies - model for Engineering Design Process
 

The smooth integrating of Design-AND-Science (in Design Process) will help students develop a smooth integrating of Design-AND-Science (in their thinking) while they are solving problems.

So is my model different than other models?  No and Yes.  Design Process is similar to other models (so it's compatible with them), yet is distinctive in important ways (so it offers “added value” when we design instruction by combining models).

Preparing Students for Life, with

skills in using Two Kinds of Design:

Schools cannot prepare students for every challenge they will face.  But we can help them cope with challenges by improving their problem-solving skills and their ability to learn new skills-and-ideas whenever it's necessary.    { Instead of just giving fish to students, we teach them how to fish. }

Transfers of Designing Skills into Life:  Because a student uses problem-solving General Design for almost everything they do in life, schools can build educational bridges – from life into school (in all subjects with a wide-spiral curriculum) and back into life – to increase transfers of learning and motivations for learning.

Transfers of Sciencing Skills into Life:  All of us, including students, use scientific thinking often in life, whenever we hear a claim {or make a claim} and ask {or explain} “what is the evidence-and-logic supporting this claim?”  In all areas of life, students can use Science-Design to improve their theories about “how the world works” so they can better understand “what is happening, how, why” and can better imagine “what will happen.”  When their theories about the world become more thorough & accurate, this improved understanding will help them make wise decisions while pursuing their goals in life.

 

a personal context:  My PhD project was developing and using a Model for Scientific Method* — its logical foundation is comparing Predictions with Observations (in a Reality Check), but in real-life science we also see other factors & activities — that I later generalized into a Model for Problem Solving that will help students understand the similarities & differences between Science-Design (asking The Science Question) and General Design (asking The Design Question) and will help them improve their skills in doing both kinds of problem-solving design.    /    * You can see my model for “Scientific Method” in this website (an overview), and with more detail in another website (basic overview & in-depth overview & PhD Dissertation) plus recent comments about Science Process as one part of Design Process.    { when we ask “is scientific method a method?” we should say “no and yes” – for reasons that are analogous to understanding the differences between improvising hockey skaters and choreographed figure skaters. }

 

 

Reality Checks:  the logic of Science-Design

Above – in Symmetry of Process – I describe General Design when students are evaluating an Option for a Problem-Solution.  Now we'll examine the process of Science-Design when they are evaluating an Option for an Explanatory Model.     { two options for instruction:  In the classroom, a teacher can begin with activities for either kind of design. }

 

Diagram 2c - showing The Logic of Science-Design, by using Reality Checksdoing a Reality Check:   Science-Design (commonly called science) uses logical Reality Checks to construct a theory-based Explanatory Model – that describes “how the world works” in a particular Experimental Situation – with a goal of explaining the reality of what is happening, how, and why.  As shown in this action-diagram, during a Reality Check you compare Predictions (made in a Mental Experiment by "using Model + logic" to imagine what will happen in the Experimental Situation, or* by remembering-and-assuming) with Observations (made in a Physical Experiment by actualizing the Experimental Situation and "using Observation Detectors") to see how closely they match.  In other words, you logically apply an Explanatory Model (for “how you think the world works” in this Experiment) to make Predictions that you compare with Observations (of “how the world really works”) to check the accuracy of Predictions based on this Option for a Model.

using a Reality Check:   If you ask The Science Question and respond “yes, I am surprised” you can revise the old Model to make a new Model.  Why?  So you can produce a better match between your Model-based Predictions and Reality-based Observations.  How?  With critical-and-creative Guided Generation by using critical Evaluation to stimulate-and-guide your creative Generation of a revised Explanatory Model that (when you "use Model + logic" to make a Prediction) will produce a closer match with the known Observations    /   Guided Generation is aka Retroductive Generation (or just Retroduction) because in a Science Cycle you are revising the Model so its Predictions will match the already-known Observations.  A Prediction & Retroduction (made before & after Observations are known) are both equally valid logically, but psychologically there is a difference because you are motivated to find a Model that makes accurate Predictions;  this motive can lead to ad-hoc adjustments so you should test each Model for ad-hocness by checking its compatibility (with other Models) and accuracy (in other Experiments) in your noble attempt to find truth, to correctly understand the what-how-why of reality.    {more: a diagram that shows - with more detail - the logic of Reality Checking}   {we should consider the many possible reasons for a mismatching surprise – in addition to an incorrect theory-based Explananatory model, it could be a faulty Experimental Design, e.g. using inaccurate Observation-detector, or... some other non-Model reason.} 

evaluating multiple Models:   In each Science Cycle, you choose a different Model to Evaluate with a Reality Check.  You can do many Science Cycles, each time “trying out” a different Model-Option, with the goal of finding a Model whose Predictions will match the known Observations.     { you can test multiple Options in multiple Experiments, to do multiple Checks - with Reality, or for Quality - in Science-Design or General Design}

 

* two ways to Predict:   You can make a Prediction in two main ways,...  1) by simply remembering a similar Experimental Situation in the past, and assuming “what happened before will happen again” or   2) by constructing an Explanatory Model (typically it's a Mental Model) for the Experimental Situation, and using IF-then logic, by thinking “IF my Model is correct, then       will happen,” and the filled-in blank is your Prediction.   Method 2 is more scientifically-logical, and is the solid foundation of scientific understanding & progress.    {more - details about how we make Predictions and how we make Observations }

 

an Instruction Model for teaching Science-Inquiry:   In a classroom (for K-12 or college), one effective way to structure an Experience of Science-Inquiry (when students are using the logic of Science-Design) is with the method of Predict-Observe-Explain, aka POE.  How?  The teacher describes an Experimental Situation, and asks students to Predict what will happen and thus what they will Observe;  then the Experiment is done (by teacher, or students, or in a video) and students Observe what really happens;  then they try to Explain their Observations — in a process that's logically the same as when they Predict, except now they can use Observations from the new Experiment, not just previous Experiments — by describing what happened, how, and why.    {two ways to Predict}    /    In a minor variation, a teacher may want students to Predict and then Explain (for themselves and/or for others) the thinking they're using to Predict, so the activity becomes Predict-Explain-Observe-Explain, PEOE.

POE + ERP + Design Process:   Teachers can combine POE with ERP – for Experience + Reflections → Principles – to learn Principles of Design Process.  How and Why?  Experiences (of doing POE) can be supplemented by Reflections (on the Experiences) to help students learn Principles (of doing POE in Science-Design) that are logically organized in Design Process, as they can see in the actions-diagram for how (by using two kinds of Experiments, by mentally imagining & physicallty actualizing) they make Predictions & Observations, and then compare them in a Reality Check, so they can ask "revise?" and decide whether a Science Cycle (using a revised Model) is logically justified.  The connection between actions in Design Process and POE – especially Predict & Observe, but also Explain ("using Model + logic") – is direct and obvious.  When students do POE-plus-ERP to learn Principles of Design Process, this will help them understand (at a deeper level) the logical process-of-thinking they use while they're doing an activity of Science-Design that is structured with POE, like two kinds of Experimenting (done Mentally & Physically, by imagining & actualizing) and Reality Checks, plus Science Cycles (to maybe "revise Model"), and more.

two similar models – POE and CER:   A model of CER (Claim, Evidence, Reasoning) is similar to POE,* but – unlike POE that is used for only Science-Design – CER can be used for Science-Design and General Design.  In this way, with its wide scope, CER is similar to Design Process.     {more: the benefits of combining POE & CER with each other, and with Design Process including their uses in C&I that's designed to achieve goals for the learning standards of Common Core (for Language & Math) and NGSS (for Science & Engineering) }    {* POE & CER have similarities and also differences}

 

 


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The Wide Scope of Problem-Solving Process

It seems easy to understand-and-accept the wide scope of Problem-Solving Activities that include almost everything a student does.

We also can understand-and-accept the wide scope of Problem-Solving Process that is similar for almost everything a student does.  But accepting this is less easy, so a clear understanding of “why” will be useful.  Earlier I claim that we solve almost all problems with "creative-and-critical thinking, by creatively Generating Ideas and (with basic logic) critically Evaluating Ideas."  This is a simple explanation that I think is satisfactory.  But it's not the best explanation.  We can teach better when we understand the “why” more deeply.  Therefore in this set of sections I want to clearly explain the “what and why” by showing how people use 9 essential Actions in common Action Sequences and with Action-Decisions we coordinate our Problem-Solving ProcessDesigning Experiments that produce ExperiencesDesign Process accurately describes our actual Problem-Solving Process that "is similar for almost everything" because we can use modular strategies when coordinating our Actions into Sequences.   And here is a short version:  our similar problem-solving process is deciding “what to do” so we can get useful Information (by making Predictions or making Observations) that we use to Evaluate a Solution-Option, and maybe then use this Evaluation to help us Generate a better Solution-Option.

When combined together, the two wide scopes – for Activities and Process can increase transfers (across areas & through time) and help us persuade students that if they improve their problem-solving skills (inside school) this will improve their quality of life (outside school), to help us build bridges – between their school-life & nonschool-life, and from the present into their future – that will motivate students to pursue their own personal education.

 

 

9 Essential Actions  and
8 Ways to Use Experiments
 
As explained below,* in diagrams for Design Process you see 9 Essential Actions of four kinds (1 2 3 - 4) that each of us often uses during goal-directed improvising while solving problems:
    1.  first you USE an Experiment (Mental or Physical) to make Information (Predictions or Observations)
         by “running” the experiment-situation mentally (by imagining it) or physically (by actualizing it),
    2.  then you USE this Experimental Information to do Evaluation of an Option.
    3.  And maybe you USE your Experiment-Based Evaluation to guide you in Generating a new Option.
 
    4.  Later you might USE your Experiment-Based Evaluation to guide you in Designing a new Experiment to USE in your next #1.
 
3 Elements (Predictions, Observations, Goals) used in 3 Evaluative Comparisons, during General Design and Science-Design* 9 Essential Actions:  In this diagram you can see how the results of #1 (using a Mental Experiment or Physical Experiment to make Predictions or make Observations) can be used in #2 to Evaluate (compare or compare, or compare).  Another diagram — that appears when you mouse-over (or touch) the diagram's right side, or {if this doesn't work in your browser} open it in the right-side frame* — shows these 5 Actions (by imagining or actualizing, comparing or comparing or comparing) and also #3 when you Generate (revise or revise, or revise) in a Design Cycle ("use QC" or "use QC") or Science Cycle ("use RC").  And with #4 you can DESIGN Experiments to use in #1.  These 9 Actions — when people design an Experiment and then use an Experiment in 8 ways (imagine actualize, compare compare compare, revise revise revise) — are the “functional units” of Problem-Solving Process, so I call them our 9 essential Actions.  Or with a shift in perspective, these 9 Actions are how we do Evaluation and use Evaluation.     {a diagram showing 8 Ways to Use Experiments}

two definitions:  being essential means...  1) being part of the essence of a thing, and/or  2) being very important, maybe even necessary.  I think the 9 essential Actions are "part of the essence" of problem-solving process, but are not "necessary" in every process, for every problem.  But although they're not always necessary, usually all are "very important" because all are very useful, and this practical utility is why all are essential parts of the process.

 
* tips:  As usual, it's best to use a large screen to view this website, so you can open two frames and, if necessary, put page into left frame.
 

SEQUENCES:  The short-term sequence you do most often is 1-and-2 when you use an Experiment to make Experimental Information, and then use this Information to Evaluate an Option.  Also common is 1-and-2-then-3 when you first use Information to Evaluate, and then use your Evaluation to Revise, trying to Generate a better Option.  You also do 1-and-2-and-3-then-4 when you use #4 to DESIGN an Experiment that you DO (you use) in your next #1 by imagining or actualizing.   /   Action 4 is important (it's necessary so you can do 1 and thus 1-2 or 1-2-3), and it's also different than 1 or 2 or 3.  How?  Your purpose in doing 1-2 or 1-2-3 is to directly pursue your main goal of finding a Solution for the Problem.  By contrast, the purpose of 4 is less direct.  You do 4 (when you Design an Experiment) to achieve a sub-goal that lets you do 1 (when you Do an Experiment) so – for the purpose of pursuing your main goal – you can do 1-2 and 1-2-3.   Or... in 1,2,3 we USE an Experiment, while in 4 we DESIGN an Experiment.   To acknowledge that 4 is different, the Actions are listed as "1 2 3 - 4" and their description has a space between 1 2 3 and 4.   {how to Design Experiments}    /    a summary:  1,2,3 are used to pursue your main goal, while 4 can be used later (after 1-2 or 1-2-3) for 1-2-3-4, to achieve a sub-goal, IF you decide that getting more Experimental Information (when you DESIGN and DO another Experiment) will help you continue making progress in your problem-solving process.

 

Designing Experiments:  Be aware of your problem-solving Situation, and ask “what additional Information (if made in #1) would be useful for Evaluation (in #2)” and then “what Experiments will produce this Information?”  Or with minimal guiding, just creatively ask (for a variety of Experiment-Options) “if I do       , what kinds of things might happen, and what could we learn that might be interesting or useful?”   /   more:  Designing an Experiment – that is an Option-in-a-Situation (for General Design) or a Theory-Using Situation (for Science-Design) – is a sub-goal (it's Action 4) that helps you achieve your main goal of solving the problem by doing other Actions (1 2 3);   some strategies for Designing Experiments are... basic & deep & deep & deeper plus summaries (short & long) from my PhD dissertation (in pages 23-25, 50-52, 66, 96-97, 114-127).

Experiments produce Experiences:  I like broad definitions because they're useful for building bridges.  In another broad defining (as with Problem & Problem Solving, and Education) an Experiment is any situation that produces Experience, that provides an opportunity to get Experimental Information when you make Predictions (by imagining in a Mental Experiment) or make Observations (by actualizing with a Physical Experiment).  An Experiment occurs in every Prediction-Situation and Observation-Situation, so your Experiments include many things you do, and most things you experience.  Your total experiences include your first-hand experiences with events you personally Observe (that you remember in your Personal Memory, from your own experience in the distant past or recent past) plus the second-hand experiences (found in our Collective Memory) that were Observed by someone else, then later (in a report or recording) you hear it and/or see it, or (in a web-page, tweet, book,...) you read about it.    /    * Why are broad definitions useful for education?

 

Experiences – Getting More & Learning More:  A student's education is their learning from experiences.  We can provide better education by helping students get more experiences (that are educationally useful) and learn more from their experiences.  And for their lifelong education – with a perspective of “showing how to fish" instead of just "giving fish" – we can help them learn how to learn more with thinking strategies that will help them improve their learning and/or performing.

 

Accurate Descriptions of How People Solve:  I claim that Design Process (my model-for-process) accurately describes what people actually do while we're solving problems.  I think this claim is justifiable, because...  earlier I describe the 9 essential Actions of Design Process (for how we do Evaluation & use Evaluation), and if you think carefully about what people do while we're solving problems, you'll see that these 9 essential Actions – when we imagine actualize, compare compare compare, revise revise revise, design actually ARE the essential Actions that we do.   /   In a closer look at "compare compare compare" I think a Quality Check – when we compare Predictions with Goals, or compare Observations with Goals, and ask “how close is the match?” — actually IS the essential logic that people use when we Evaluate during a process of General Design.  And a Reality Check – when we compare Predictions with Observations, and ask “am I surprised?” — actually IS the essential logic that people use when we Evaluate during a process of Science-Design.  In similar ways, the other Actions — when we imagine to make Predictions, or actualize to make Observations;  when Evaluation stimulates us to ask "revise?" and guides our Generation of a new Option;  when we design new Experiments — ARE essential Actions that we actually do while we're solving problems.

 

Modular Strategies to Coordinate Problem-Solving Process

As explained in the introduction for this set of related sections, when they're combined the two wide scopes – for Activities and Process can provide valuable educational benefits, helping us increase transfers (across areas & through time) and persuade students that if they improve their problem-solving skills (inside school) this will improve their quality of life (outside school), so we can build bridges – between their school-life & nonschool-life, and from the present into their future – that will motivate students to pursue their own personal education.  The sections below describe HOW we can use Design Process to show students that their Problem-Solving Process "is similar" for almost all of their Problem-Solving Activities.

 

Actions and Sequences:  As outlined above, Design Process shows how 9 essential Actions — do Experiment (imagine actualize), do Evaluation (compare compare compare), do Generation (revise revise revise), plus design Experiment — are used when problem-solving people...  1) make Information,  2) do Evaluation,  3) do Generation, and  4) design Experiments.  And it shows how we combine these Actions to form common Action Sequences, as in 1-and-2 or 1-and-2-then-3, or 1-2-3-then-4.   These essential Actions (of types 1,2,3, 4) and common Sequences can be used flexibly, without any rigid choreography, so each person can flexibly Coordinate their Problem-Solving Process – by making Action-Decisions about “what to do next” – trying to optimally customize their process for each problem they solve.  How?  By using...

Modular Coordination Strategies:  While you're solving a problem, there are MANY different ways to combine the 9 Actions into functionally-useful Sequences, and to combine Sequences into an overall Process.  Because the Actions are independent units in Design Process, they can be combined in any order, thus in many different ways.  It's analogous to modular construction using the independent units of LEGO Bricks that can be combined in many ways to form many different structures.  Another useful analogy is quarks-atoms-molecules-objects, with Actions & Sequences at the levels of atoms & molecules {but not quarks} because there are...

    many ways to combine atoms-and-molecules (with each combination forming a different object), and
    many ways to combine Actions-and-Sequences (with each combination forming a different Process).
 

Variations on a Theme:  For most problems, your process is similar because there is a basic theme that is being used in many variations.  The process-theme is the modular “units” of the essential Actions you use for all problem solving.  But these Actions are used in many process-variations, with modular combining of Actions in many different ways, with improvisation that is structured yet flexible.  The improvising is guided by goal-directed coordinating so it has structure, but is intentionally flexible, is open to real-time adjustments in response to what is happening — that you use (by making improvised Action-Decisions) to customize your process for each different Problem-Situation.

 

Coordinating your Problem-Solving Process:  You naturally use Actions-and-Sequences flexibly, by Coordinating your Process with Action Decisions about “what to do next.”  How?  During skillful coordination-of-process you combine cognitive-and-metacognitive awareness of your situation (of “where you are” and “where you want to go” in your process, of what you've done and still need to do) with conditional knowledge of your action-options (by knowing how each action could help you make progress toward a solution, and the conditions when this action can be useful).  Your flexible goal-directed coordinating IS analogous to the flexible goal-directed improvising of a hockey player, but IS NOT like the rigid choreography of a figure skater.  A section about Two Skaters (and strategic maps, tools, principles) says problem-solving process "is analogous to an expert hockey player's goal-directed structured improvisation that is guided by principles but is continually open to real-time adjustments due to changes in the situation, because even though hockey skaters have a strategic plan, this plan is intentionally flexible, with each skater improvising in response to what happens during the game."    /    { you also can coordinate your collaboration, for effective work individually-and-cooperatively, to increase the overall productivity of your group with optimal performing-learning-enjoying. }    { educational value:  teaching principles of Design Process can help students improve the valuable skill of “executive control for their thinking,” using metacognitive thinking strategies to effectively coordinate their creative-and-critical thinking skills into productive process skills. }

 

iou - Soon (maybe during October 28-31?) the section about TRANSFER will have some of these ideas from above:

because the core/essence of Design Process is 9 essential Actions that are like modular units (like units of Lego Bricks used to construct many different structures-objects), because they can be combined in many different ways -- variations on the same basic theme, using the same 9 actions, different combinations, sequences, used in different ways, combined in different ways

coordinated with flexible goal-directed improvising that you use (by making Action-Decisions about "what to do next") to customize your process for each different Problem-Situation. / like hockey player

 
 
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combining Models (mine + others)

in Education for Problem Solving

 

Before thinking about ways to effectively combine Models we'll first look at...

 

My Model for Design Process

(for Problem-Solving Process)

two goals:   my Model-for-process* is intended to be accurate and useful, so it will...

    accurately describe the process that people use when we are solving problems, and
    be educationally useful, by helping people improve their understanding-of-process and (more important) their performing-with-process when they are solving problems.     { I'm confident that Design Process will be useful for education, partly because it does accurately describe how people solve. }
 

* I call it Design Process.    { or, much less often, Design-Thinking Process }

 

my Model is a family of models:   My overall Model (capitalized) is a systematically organized family of models – used in a 4-Stage progression of learning – with each model being a different version of the same Model.   { i.e. each different model is a different description of the same process, with each model featuring different aspects of the Model.}   { due to these differences, each model accurately describes in different ways, and each model is educationally useful in different ways }

Above, you've seen six models:  the first two are complex (and I encouraged you to “study them, creatively explore them,” to learn by discovering about the process-of-thinking when people Use Comparisons to Evaluate An Option in Stage 3;   then I explain Define-and-Solve (showing Simplicity of Process, in Stage 1) and Evaluating an Option (showing Symmetry of Process – with Mental Experiments & Physical Experiments, to use in two Quality Checks & Design Cycles during General Design, in Stage 2) and Evaluating a Model (by using a Reality Check & Science Cycle during Science-Design);  in Stage 3 we also see connections between General Design and Science-Design.  Each of these models (in Stages 1-2-3) is represented in a visual-and-verbal Actions Diagram that shows some of the essential Actions (usually mental, sometimes also physical) we use while we're solving problems.   In these models, the same Model-process is being viewed from different model-perspectives and is described in different ways, with differing levels of detail, by including some problem-solving actions, but not other actions.    {how sub-models form a total-Model of Design Process}

also:  Other people have developed other models for problem-solving process.  Our models – those developed by me & by others – all describe the same process of problem solving, and we can work together to develop strategies for using My Model along with Other Models in creative ways that make the combination of Models better than any single Model by itself.

 

What-and-Why?  —  4 Stages

Design Process is a Model containing many models.  Each model is accurate in different ways – by selecting different actions to include & exclude, and because problem-solving process varies from one life-situation to another – and is educationally useful in different ways.   Here is a 4-Stage Progression of Learning that uses the main models in my Model for Design Process:

    Stage 1 shows the Simplicity of Defining a Problem and then trying to Solve this Problem with cycles of critical Evaluation and creative Generation.  It's useful as an overview-of-actions, and to help students recognize how their school-Actions are also life-Actions they use outside school in their everyday living.  This recognition can help them understand some of the many connections between school-life and everyday life, so they can build two-way educational bridges

    Stage 2 supplements this by showing the Symmetry in their Doing-and-Using of Mental Experiments & Physical Experiments when they Evaluate an Option by generating Predictions & Observations that they Use in Quality Checks by comparing Actual Properties (Predicted or Observed) with the Desired Properties defined by their Goals for a Problem-Solution.   /   also:  Stage 2 (as in Diagram 2b) helps us see how we can use metacognitive thinking strategies (as in Self-Regulated Learning) to improve our learning and/or performing of basic skills & problem-solving skills, making decisions about “what to do, when, and how” by shifting between Imagining and Actualizing in our Mental Experimenting and Physical Experimenting.

3 Cycles - 2 using Quality Checks, 1 using Reality Check    Stage 3 is a deeper examination, especially in Diagram 3b (at right) that – as you discovered during your explorations of 3b – shows two Design Cycles (each saying "use QC" [use Quality Check] and asking "revise Option?" during General Design) and one Science Cycle (saying "use RC" [use Reality Check] and asking "revise Model?" during Science-Design.   /   The Science Cycle is explained above.   /   In a Design Cycle during General Design, critical Evaluation (in a Quality Check) leads students to ask "revise Option" and maybe to creatively Generate a New Option.  If they do this, they are doing Guided Generation because their creative Generation is guided by their critical Evaluation.  Diagram 3b shows this productive interaction – between critical thinking and creative thinking – to help students understand the and in Evaluate-and-Generate during each Cycle of Design.  How does guiding occur?  A student's Evaluation of an Option helps them decide whether to reject it or accept it as-is, or modify it by critically asking “in what ways do This Option's actual properties (predicted or observed) differ from the desired properties I have defined as Goals?” and then creatively asking “how can I creatively modify This Option to Generate a New Option with actual properties that will more closely match the desired properties I want?”  In this way, their critical Evaluative Thinking stimulates-and-guides their creative Generative Thinking, with continuing Cycles of Design in which the Quality of their Options improves because they are Evaluating-and-Generating by using critical-and-creative Guided Generation.       {more: creativity in guided generation-by-revision}   {four ways to use experiences}    /    Stage 3a (and Diagram 3a) shows differences – in Objectives and Evaluations – between General Design & Science-Design, and also similarities.  Students ask The Design Question (“how close is the match?” when Desired Properties & Actual Properties are compared) in every Quality Check, and they ask The Science Question (“am I surprised?” when Predictions & Observations are compared) in every Reality Check.

Also, although not described in this homepage:

    • Stage 4 (verbal description & verbal-visual diagram) includes everything in Stages 1-3 and more, with a deeper examination of similarities & differences between General Design and Science-Design, especially in our Designing of Experiments (overview + details).

    10 Modes of Problem-Solving is a semi-model – a system of functionally related modes of action (mental and/or physical) – that becomes a model when the modes are logically organized in educationally productive ways to show the coherent integration of productive actions (in these modes) to form a productive process.  The descriptions in these 10 Modes is mainly verbal, by contrast with Stages 1-2-3-4 that describe actions verbally-and-visually.

 

Why?   Students get long-term educational benefits when they combine Principles from all models into a Model of Design Process, because they are constructing a deeper understanding of problem-solving process.  But will better understanding-of-process help students improve their doing-of-process, so they have better overall problem-solving skills (for General Design & Science-Design) because they have better creative-and-critical thinking skills and whole-process skills?  I think "yes" for reasons explained here.

How?   Students cannot immediately construct a "deep understanding" of problem solving.  Their process of understanding requires time.  A basic strategy for “how” is to use progressions of learning – beginning with a simple model, then (as in Stages 1,2,3,4 described above) gradually increasing the complexity – so we can help students gradually construct increasingly deeper understandings of their problem-solving process, of their own personal Model that is useful for them, is being used by them.  One teaching method is discovery learning when students use a process of inquiry to learn principles for inquiry.     {of course, a progression of learning is necessary for everyone, for students & teachers, for me & you & others;  e.g. I described your "creative exploration" of an Actions Diagram for Stage 3 as "a challenging example of Discovery Learning" }   {more about using a process of inquiry to teach principles for inquiry}

 

What?   Is my Model a Method?  No and Yes.*  How can it be both?  Because my Model (for Design Process) IS NOT a rigid step-by-step Method (with steps used in the same sequence for every problem), but IS a flexible “Method” if this is defined as a logical framework that shows – as in a time-lapse videothe actions that people typically use when we're solving problems.  How is flexibility produced?  By using Conditional Knowledge when you Coordinate your Problem-Solving Process by making Action Decisions about “what to do next.”  The result is analogous to the flexible goal-directed improvising of a hockey player, but not the rigid choreography of a figure skater.

 

 

combining my Model with other Models

Design Process can be the only Model that's used for problem-solving instruction with inquiry activities, or it can be combined with other Models.

Educators have developed many Models for problem-solving process.  When we're working together to co-pursue our goal of improving education, one productive action is developing instruction methods that creatively combine two (or more) Models-for-process, so the combination is more effective for teaching ideas-and-skills.  We want the Models to interact in ways that are synergistically supportive, that make the combination of Models better than any single Model by itself.

 

During a process of creative combining, Design Process (DP) can “play well with other Models” with a “yes and” relationship, because DP...   • is similar to currently used Models (and strategies) for teaching inquiry, so it's educationally compatible;   • is distinctive in important ways,* so it offers special added value, with extra benefits for students.   Because it's similar, Design Process can be combined with other Models now being used by teachers;   and it's distinctive, so it can be especially effective for adding synergistic value in a well-designed combination of Models;  instead of a competition for the doing same function during instruction, we can design instruction that uses DP & other models to do complementary functions, with each contributing to the overall instruction.    {one part of a "well-designed combination" is using Experiences + Reflections → Principles to help students discover Principles of Design Process, and of other Models}

* One distinctive feature of Design Process is that its foundational evaluative logic (when 3 Elements are used in 3 Comparisons) leads naturally to it being used for both General Design (aka Design, the usual term) and Science-Design (aka Science, usually).  By contrast, most other Models are for a process of either Design or Science, but not both.

Another major difference is that in Design Process the focus is short-term actions — and connecting these to form short-term sequences (as when we make and use Goals-Predictions-Observations in Quality Checks & Reality Checks that can be used in Design Cycles & Science Cycles) — while other Models often describe longer-term phases that contain the shorter-term actions & sequences in Design Process.  For example, some other Models-for-Design have phases for Mental Ideation and Physical Testing, which correspond to Predictions-Based Design Cycles and Observations-Based Design Cycles in Design Process.  I've made tables to compare the structures of Design Process and many Models that include Stanford's d.school and Engineering is Elementary (EiE), with a detailed examination of EiEIn doing this my goal is to show how all of these Models can be combined with Design Process, so we can help students understand how their creative-and-critical productive thinking happens during the short-term actions (and short-term sequences) that are the focus of Design Process.   /   iou – later, I'll describe the modular structure of Design Process (working it into the paragraph above), using analogy of quarks-atoms-molecules-objects, with most other models on the "objects" end of the range, and Design Process in the middle with its Actions & Sequences like atoms & molecules;  at the extreme of smallest levels, our creative-and-critical thinking (used in Actions & Sequences) is analogous to subatomic particles (protons, neutrons, electrons), and neurochemical “sub-thinking actions” are like quarks, or maybe even strings?

 

Structures and Strategies:  Typically, a Model-for-process is educationally useful in two ways, by providing structures (for instruction) and strategies (for thinking).  Each model has its own structures & strategies, so each offers its own benefits for students.  When we effectively combine the structures & strategies from two (or more) models, we combine their benefits. #omsas

My page about using other Models examines the structures & strategies (and framework + supplements) of Stanford's d.school.  Another option to learn from, and consider using, is in a page (from ThoughtfulLearning.com) desrcribing problem-solving instruction in a different way by telling a story (about a creative-and-critical collaboration) and continuing with strategy-principles & instruction-activities (for critical thinking, and for creative thinking) plus a Model with a problem-solving structure of "the back-and-forth interplay of critical and creative thinking" with a chart showing "how these two types of thinking [can] interact" during a process of problem solving.   And there are many other fascinating ways to creatively design activities that will be fun & useful and will motivate students to pursue their own personal education.

 

Thinking Strategies to Improve Many Skills:  We can help students “make things better in many ways” by helping them develop-and-use strategies for Self-Regulated Learning (i.e. for Plan-and-Do and Adjust)* with metacognitive thinking strategies that improve their learning and/or performing for problem-solving skills plus basic skills (like reading & math) and content-knowledge.    {* basically, Plan-and-Do is just making decisions about “what to do, when, and how” by shifting between Planning and Doing – between Imagining and Actualizing – with Mental Experimenting and Physical Experimenting.}

 

 

Above I explain how "other Models often describe longer-term phases that contain the shorter-term actions & sequences in Design Process."  But for some process-Models (e.g. POE & CER) we don't need to distinguish between short-term actions and long-term phases.  For these Models – or at least for POE – the connections with Design Process (re: short-term actions) are direct and simple.

Short-Term Actions:  As described earlier (in the second part of a section about the logic of Science-Design), there is a direct correspondence between the short-term actions in POE & CER (Predict-Observe-Explain & Claim-Evidence-Reasoning) and in Design Process.  But we get synergistic added value when students understand these actions within the logical structure of Design Process, which shows a problem-solving context when the short-term actions combine to form short-term sequences.  Two analogous sequences occur for Science {or Design} when Predictions & Observations are compared in an evaluative Reality Check {or Quality Check} that prompts a student to ask "revise?" in a Cycle of Science {or Cycle of Design} and maybe do critical-and-creative guided Generation by using critical Evaluation to stimulate-and-guide their creative Generation of a revised Explanatory Model {or revised Option-for-Solution} that comes closer to achieving their Goals during a project of Science-Design {or General Design}.

 

Science-and-Design:  POE is an excellent Model for only-Science.  But CER is more flexible, because (like Design Process, DP) it's a Model that can be used for only-Science or only-Design, or Design-and-Science.  Due to this flexibility in both Models, CER and DP can be used effectively in a coordinated Wide-Spiral Curriculum.  I think this should be done, and it now is being done by using CER;  Heather Cianci says "science classes use [CER] frequently, but it works well in any content area.  In fact, my entire school uses it.  ...  A C-E-R writing framework works especially well for teachers adhering to the Common Core State Standards.  The words ‘claim’, ‘evidence’, and ‘reasoning’ are directly from the standards themselves." (with emphasis added by me)

Standards and Models:  The major USA standards — Common Core (CC, for language & math) and Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS, for science & engineering)form a well-designed framework for curriculum & instruction that is coordinated [as in what I call a Wide-Spiral Curriculum] across subject areas and student agesCC and NGSS have been designed so they're compatible with each other.  And both are compatible with CER;  Heather reports that CER is used in science classes [NGSS], and "the words" of CER "are directly from the [CC] standards."  And I've explained (in a summary & in depth) how Design Process is compatible with NGSS, and why using DP would produce “added value” during instruction that's guided by NGSS.  In the context of CC+NGSS, I think that if we provide structures for activities (of science-inquiry & design-inquiry) by creatively designing a combination of Models – for example, with DP and CER, plus SRL and another Model for Design, as described below* – and we try to optimize their synergistically-productive interactions, the combination-of-Models would produce significant added value for students.   This confidence is based on a belief that it's possible to help all students (of any age) learn basic Principles of Problem Solving.

 

Two Structures for Instruction:  We can design instruction that begins with an activity of Design-Inquiry, using the simplest model of Design Process to show students how they are just Generating Ideas and Evaluating Ideas (in continuing Cycles of Design);  then the teacher uses other Models for Design-Inquiry and/or Science-Inquiry, and later uses more-complete models of Design Process (DP) for deeper understandings.  But some teachers may find it easier (and more effective) to begin with another Model – instead of the simplest DP – to provide a structure for their do-think-learn activities when they do science-inquiry or design-inquiry, as in this combination of activities and Models:

* To design standards-based C&I, one possibility is combining DP with POE & CER, plus one Model for Design, and SRL.   Begin with the simple POE (for Science),* and use DP with Experiences + Reflections → Principles (ERP) to help students discover (recognize) Principles for POE-Process that is basic Science Process;   then connect POE with CER by showing how POE & CER are similar (but also with some differences);   use ERP to teach Principles of POE-CER-DP;   use CER+DP to generalize skills-doing-Science (with POE+DP and POE+CER+DP) into skills-doing-Design (with CER+DP).   Sometime – either soon after beginning with POE to structure activities of Science-Inquiry, or later – begin doing Design-Inquiry with another Model, such as Engineering is Elementary or (for older students?) the d.school of Stanford, or a similar Model.   {* or a teacher can begin with Design-Inquiry, and later do Science-Inquiry with POE}  {and maybe also use another Model for Science-Inquiry to supplement POE+DP+CER}

 

 


This is the end of my Introductory Overview.


 

 

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Exploring the Website

You can begin in four ways:

 

by studying a table of contents to get a “big picture” view of the website.    {note: below here inside the gray-box, all links open in this frame, replacing it.}

  Then you can learn more deeply by clicking the table's links to explore and discover.  But before doing in-depth explorations, you probably will want to get an overview of the main ideas,...

 

by reading (or re-reading) the introductory overview in this Homepage.

 

by reading a page about Building Educational Bridges that explains how we can use the wide scope of problem-solving Design Thinking (it includes almost everything we do in life) to build two-way bridges — from life into school, and back into life — that will improve transfers of learning and transitions of attitudes.  These bridges will help a wider diversity of students (each with their own personal story) improve their confidence & motivations and problem-solving skills, for better educational equity.  Basically, we can (and should) help more students improve themselves, by giving them a wider variety of experiences, and helping them learn more from their experiences.

 

and by using the rest of this home-page, by reading its text and (to learn more about the ideas) clicking its links;  the main content...

begins with...
a brief Website Overview,
and continues with overview-summaries about...
[ iou - the order-of-summaries has changed, and I'll revise it here during late October: ]
    Defining Our Goals  and  Pursuing Our Goals,
followed by
    my model for how we use Design Process to solve problems,
        Simplicity  +  Symmetry (with verbal/visual thinking) and
        4 Ways to Use Experiences (that come from Experiments);
    why broad definitions are useful for problem-solving education,
    Learn by Discovery (use inquiry-Process to teach inquiry-Principles),
    Combine Experience with Reflection and Principles, (why?)
    Combine Design Process with Other Models-for-Process, (how?)
and then more about the main topics.
 

 



 

 
This brief Website Overview summarizes the main ideas.    /    tips:  When you click links, they'll open on the right side, so (if necessary) you should put this page on the left side.  And you can use the right-side's colorized Table of Contents to get another kind of Website Overview.
 

During my PhD project I designed a model of Science Process.  It has been generalized into a broader model of Design Process (including updated Science Process) that describes the flexibly improvised creative-and-critical productive thinking we use for doing almost everything in life when we solve problems by designing better products, activities, relationships, strategies, and explanatory theories.

This wide scope of design thinking (used for Science-Design & General Design) lets teachers coordinate design activities across all subject areas and student ages, designing goal-directed curriculum & instruction to improve ideas-and-skills in each area and to build educational bridges that promote transfers of learning (between areas and into life) and transitions of attitudes (to improve educational equity).  Students’ motivations to learn increase when they recognize the personal benefits of skillful design thinking, including its use for cognitive-and-metacognitive Thinking Strategies to improve their learning & performing & enjoying in all areas of life.

experience + principles:  I think students can learn more from their inquiry experiences (in design-inquiry and science-inquiry that's blended into eclectic instruction) if we teach inquiry principles using Design Process.*  How?  With wise guiding and metacognitive reflection plus verbal/visual explanations of Design Process` while trying to maintain flow-and-fun.   /   * e.g., We can show students 4 Ways to Use Experiences (to Use Experiments) that include Comparing Goals with Predictions or with Observations in Quality Checks (so their critical idea-Evaluation can guide their creative idea-Generation in Cycles of General Design) and Comparing Predictions with Observations in Reality Checks (used for Science-Design).

collaboration:  I want to work cooperatively with other educators, developing creative uses of Design Process to improve education for thinking skills-and-process at all levels, in K-12 through college and with informal education.

 

This summary is expanded in a longer Website Overview.
 

 



 

 

Who?  —  I'm writing for Other Educators.

This website is designed for educators, so "we" refers to teachers, curriculum designers, policy deciders, parents, and researchers.   /   Some parts of the website might also be directly useful for students “as-is” but... almost all of the ideas must be adapted by a teacher, for effective learning by students.  Yes, I want to design instruction-applications that will be useful for students (and their teachers), but to do this I will need to collaborate with other educators.

 

Why?  —  I want to help us improve our Education for Problem Solving.

This website explores educational strategies & activities that we – myself and other educators with similar goals (your ideas and mine), cooperatively working together – can develop and use, to help students improve their problem-solving skills (in all areas of life) by increasing their problem-solving experiences and helping them learn more from their experiences.

 
 

How?  —  A Website for Efficient Learning

My website (including this homepage) is large, with lots of ideas.  Some people will think it's TMI, but I think a sharing of relevant Information is useful, so instead of "keeping it simple" by reducing the number of ideas,...I'm aiming for a high ratio of ideas / words, to help busy people like you – with lots to do, and not enough time to do it – learn efficiently with a high ratio of learning / time.

I want to help you learn a lot quickly, so I'm trying to explain ideas quickly (yet clearly & thoroughly), and provide links to places where the ideas are examined in more depth.  With this structure it's easier for you to make decisions (about how many links to click, and how much to read) and to learn as much as you want — in 1 minute, 10 minutes, 100 minutes, or more, in whatever time you want to invest, now and later — about the combination-of-ideas you choose.

 

 

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Defining Our Goals for Teaching Ideas-and-Skills

We should design curriculum & instruction that will help students improve not just their knowledge of ideas, but also their creative-and-critical thinking skills and problem-solving process. 

 

Why?  The Many Benefits of Problem-Solving Skills  [[ IOU – soon, maybe in mid-November 2022, I'll write a brief summary — to describe the widespread agreement about the many benefits of problem-solving skills in all areas of life, because making things better is always useful — and I'll make links to resources about this agreement, like the previous 4 links ("the many benefits...problem-solving skills...all areas...life") and to some parts of my 3 pages about "___ in Education" where "___" is Creative Thinking, Critical Thinking, Problem Solving. ]]

 

How?  We can...

2-Step Cycle of Design (simple diagram)
        Show students how to combine their thinking skills (creative-and-critical) into a flexible thinking process (also creative-and-critical) that is more effective for solving problems, for "making it better" in any area of life.  We begin by helping students discover the Simplicity-of-Process [summarized in the diagram] when they DEFINE a Problem, and then to SOLVE the Problem they creatively GENERATE Options (for a Problem-Solution) and critically EVALUATE Options, in creative-and-critical Cycles of Design.
        then, for deeper understanding, we let students see (as in Diagram 2 - described here) the Symmetry-of-Process when they do a Mental Experiment & do a Physical Experiment to produce the Predictions & Observations they use for 3 Comparisons in evaluative Quality Checks (for General Design) and evaluative Reality Checks (for Science-Design).     { I define Experiment broadly – it's any situation that produces Experience, that allows Predicting or Observing (more) – because this is educationally useful, and so are broad definitions for problem & education. }   {General Design and Science-Design}
 
    help students discover how they Use Experiences in 4 Ways and how they ask The Design Question (“how well does This Option match my Goals?”) in every Quality Check, and they ask The Science Question (“am I surprised?” because Observations don't match Predictions) in every Reality Check;  when educators do this, we help students discover (and improve) the process of thinking they use for General Design (with Quality Checks) and for Science-Design (with Reality Checks), we help them discover their essential Process-of-Thinking for Design and their essential Process-of-Thinking for Science, or simply their Thinking for Design and Thinking for Science.     {in STEM Education, The Design Question can be called The Engineering Question, because Engineering is one type of General Design}
    design thought-stimulating inquiry activities involving science-inquiry & design-inquiry and argumentation and thinking strategies.*  We can make these activities life-relevant for students by showing them how they use design thinking for almost everything in life.*  This wide scope of design thinking lets us...
    build integrative educational bridges to promote transfers-of-learning and transitions-of-attitudes.  We can build two-way bridges — from life into school, and back into life, spanning all subject areas (including engineering & science) — that will improve students' motivations to learn and their transfers of learning from school into life.  When these bridges improve their motivations & learning-transfers, and promote attitude-transitions, this will...
    help a wider range of students (for better diversity & equity) improve important ideas-AND-skills that include thinking with empathy` in relationships and projects
 

* Students can use Design Process to develop strategies for thinking so they can more effectively regulate their cognition/metacognition (by deciding when to avoid metacognition or use it, and how) and use reflection to help them learn more from their experiences in a wide range of activities to improve their performing and/or learning (+ enjoying) in many areas of life.  One valuable thinking strategy is coordinating their thinking-and-actions by making decisions (how?) about “what to do next” during a process of design.     {another thinking strategy is using prayer for problem solving - to live more effectively}   {MORE about Cognitive-and-Metacognitive Thinking Strategies}

* I use a wide-scope definition of design thinking.  Is this justifiable? (probably)  And is it useful for education? (yes)  –  What is Design Thinking? (criteria & definitions)     /     But... although for many years I've claimed "we use design thinking for almost everything in life" I'm now thinking that either this claim should be narrowed, or "design thinking" should be more broadly defined so it includes two interactive aspects of thinking (conscious & subconscious) that we typically combine when we're generating-and-evaluating ideas.     {i.o.u. – Soon, in mid-November 2022, these ideas will be examined more thoroughly, here. }

 

LINKS  —  This homepage has lots of links that you can choose to ignore or explore.   {most links open on the right side, so if necessary you should (why?) put this page on the left side by using the link here or in the upper-right corner of page}

 

Pursuing Our Goals for Ideas-and-Skills Education

Because we have reasons to expect that using Design Process (so we're combining experience with principles) might help us achieve our worthy goals more effectively, the possibilities for using Design Process are worth exploring and developing.  I want to collaborate with other educators so we can explore possibilities and develop our ideas, especially by developing strategies for creatively combining different models-for-process in ways that are synergistically supportive, that make a combination of models better than any model by itself.

How and Why?  We can show students how short-term sequences (in Design Process) occur within long-term phases (used in all models for process, including Design Process);  this awareness will help students understand how their creative-and-critical productive thinking occurs in the context of these short-term actions & sequences.     {more about HOW to effectively combine structures (for instruction) and strategies (for thinking)}  {two sequencing-strategies for combining models}

Collaboration is necessary because although I feel skilled in some ways (like developing the ideas in this website),  I definitely need help — from those who understand the perspectives of classroom teachers more accurately & thoroughly, or are skilled story tellers or game developers, or have other kinds of useful experience and expertise — so that by working together with coordinated cooperation we can design curriculum-and-instruction that is a good match for how students like to learn (and are able to learn), and how teachers like to teach.  Here is a beginning for ideas about collaborating.     (you can contact me by e-mail – and on twitter I'm @DTprocess)

 


If necessary, you can put this page into the left frame`Why?    Or you can put this page into its own full-width window

 

Stories of Students & their Communities, with

mutually interactive Psychologies & Sociologies:

I.O.U. – Later, probably starting in August 2022, to supplement my section about students with stories (and how this student variety should lead to activity variety) I'll find web-pages with stories written by others, then will summarize them here, and link to them so you can read the full story.  When it's useful for drama, I'll try to avoid “spoilers” that would reduce your real-time enjoying as you're reading the story and are gradually gathering information (about people and situations), are mentally “putting together” the sequence of what is happening.  I'll be looking for stories that illustrate the fascinating-and-important relationships between students & communities, re: the complex mutually co-influencing interactions that occur between whole-persons & whole-communities, with each having “stories” that are psychological & sociological, with two-way interactions between the psychologies & sociologies of individuals & communities.    {maybe I'll add a few stories of my own, but the emphasis will be other authors who are more skilled at telling stories that are meaningful for education, for teachers, parents, students, and others}   —  introduction - stories of whole-person students and their whole-life situations & communities.

 

 

Strategies for Instruction  —  WHY and HOW

WHY should we use "experience + reflection + principles" to help students improve their problem-solving skills?     { what are the benefits of supplementing inquiry-experiences with inquiry-principles? }

HOW can we design multi-model instruction that effectively combines the benefits offered by Design Process and by other models?

 

MORE — To get a more comprehensive overview, you can read Page-Summaries that include these ideas:

 

Problems and Objectives:   A problem is "any opportunity, in any area of life, to make things better,"* and  problem solving is "converting an actual current situation into a better future situation."   In a wide range of design fields that include engineering & sciences, humanities & arts, the objective is to design (to find, invent, or improve) a better product, activity, relationship, strategy, and/or explanatory theory.  These objectives include almost everything we do in life.     {* You can make things better when you either increase quality for any aspect of life, or maintain quality by minimizing a potential decrease of quality,  when you either promote a helpful change, or resist a harmful change. }

 

An Overview of Design Process describes — with a brief introduction to summarize its goals, then visually-and-verbally in five stages of a progression for learning — what it IS.*     {Simplicity & Symmetry in Design Process}

• But to avoid inaccurate stereotypes, it's also important to know what it ISN'T.  Design Process is not a step-by-step rigid method.  Instead it's a flexible framework that can help students master the typical thinking-and-actions used by experts when they solve problems.  Experts often use long-term planning, and always use short-term planning (for deciding “what to do next”) to coordinate their process of design.  Their short-term process is analogous to the flexible goal-directed improvising of a hockey player, but not the rigid choreography of a figure skater.  When we ask “Is there a method?”, why is the best answer No and Yes?     {long-term phases and short-term sequences}

 

We should think with empathy (what is it?) in projects and relationships.

Collaboration and Communication in a Productive Community

 

Success and Failure:  I have two goals for my Model(s) of Design Process.  I think one goal (for accurate description) has been achieved, but another (for effective education) has not, but I think it will be later.   Why do I think this?

teacher enjoying Design Thinking

Exploring Possibilities:  Should we creatively combine ideas from different models-for-process?

Objectives for Educational Design:  I want to work cooperatively with other educators to develop instruction for teaching Design Process (along with other models?) using teacher-guided classroom activities and/or computer-based interactive modules.  But, responding to an obvious question,...

 

WHY we should teach Design Process explains why — due to benefits arising from increased motivation, transfer, metacognition, organization, and design/science connections — "using Design Process might be very useful in education, so the possibilities are worth exploring and developing."

WHY — Experience plus Principles:  When we ask “why teach Design Process?” an important sub-question is whether a well-designed combination of experience plus principles (along with reflection) will be more educationally effective than experience by itself, to help students improve their skills in creative-and-critical productive thinking and their ability to combine thinking skills into a thinking process* that is more effective for solving problems.  I think we should answer YES.     {* A better understanding of process-principles can help students improve their use of conditional knowledge to coordinate their problem-solving process by making action-decisions in a way that is analogous to the flexible goal-directed improvising of a hockey player, but not the rigid choreography of a figure skater.}

WHAT — Teachers can provide their students with 4 Levels of Learning from Inquiry.  What usually happens?  Teachers often decide (for unfortunately rational reasons) to give students no experiences (or very few) with design-inquiry and science-inquiry.  Or, for reasons that are better (especially in the long term), students can get experiences;  or experiences + reflection;  or, as I think is best, experiences + reflection + principles.

HOW — While thinking about instruction, we can ask, “is experience + principles better than just experience?”  I think we should answer YES, and then ask “what model(s) of principles-for-process should we use?”,* and “how can we design goal-directed instruction that matches the ways teachers like to teach and students like to learn (and are able to learn)?”

 

HOW* We should search for effective ways to combine models, to pursue our goal of improving education for ideas-and-skills.  We should try to design curriculum & instruction that creatively combines long-term phases (used in all models-for-process, including Design Process) and short-term sequences (in Design Process)* to produce model-interactions that are synergistically supportive, that make a combination-of-models better than any model by itself.   /   Two key sequences show the Quality Checks & Reality Checks we use when Thinking for Design & Thinking for Science.

WHY — Typically, models-for-process are educationally useful in two ways, by offering structures (for instruction) and strategies (for thinking).  Each model has its own structure & strategies, so each offers its own distinctive benefits for students.  When we effectively combine the structures & strategies from two (or more) models, we combine their benefits.  We can design effective ways to combine structures, and combine strategies.

WHAT — One “strategy for combining” is showing how short-time sequences (in Design Process) occur within longer-time phases (in all models, including Design Process), to help students understand how their creative-and-critical productive thinking actually occurs in these short-time actions & sequences.   /   Two “ways to combine” are to use Design Process early-and-late (early with my simplest model and later for deeper understanding), or to use it after instruction begins with another model.   {descriptions of these two ways}

 

WHAT — More generally, Design Process (and other models) can be used in a wide-spiral curriculum because the wide scope of problem solving lets teachers use inquiry activities in all subject areas — in sciences, engineering, business, humanities, and arts, in an ideas-and-skills curriculum with wide scope — so in every area students can have analogous problem-solving experiences.  These experiences can be one part of a wide spiral curriculum that has wide scope (so related learning experiences are coordinated across different areas) and uses spiral repetitions (so learning experiences are coordinated over time).

 

HOW should we teach Design Process?  Teachers develop strategies for teaching (and coaching) that can include guiding students to help them use a process of inquiry to discover principles of inquiry.

 


 

Design Process — What is it?   For a quick overview of Design Process (it's my model for Problem-Solving Process), see-and-read Stage 1` in a 4-stage family of related models that has...
 

Simplicity and Symmetry    {this section is similar to Simplicity and Symmetry in the Introductory Overview, but reviewing it now will be useful in your “spiral of learning” – and here it's similar yet different – and because its links go to pages where the ideas are explored with more depth.}

• a Simplicity of Process:  Diagram 1` shows — in its top & bottom parts, to Define & Solve — how you Define a Problem (Learn about Problem-Situation, Define your Objective, Define your Goals) and try to Solve this Problem by simply Generating-and-Evaluating Options (for a Problem-Solution) in iterative Cycles of Design.  This simplicity lets a teacher SHOW students how they use design thinking for almost everything they do in life.  This wide scope — and the simplicity of “generate and evaluate” when they solve problems — helps us build educational Transfer Bridges between life and school, with transfers (of knowledge & skills) and transitions (of attitudes) in both directions, to improve the problem-solving abilities & confidence & motivations of students, for better diversity & equity in educationDiagram 2a - showing Symmetry of Design Process Later, for deeper understanding, you can help students discover...

• a Symmetry of Process:  During their process of problem solving, students Design and Do two kinds of experience-producing Experiments (done mentally to make PREDICTIONS & physically to make OBSERVATIONS as shown on the left side & right side of the diagram) so they can Use their PREDICTIONS & OBSERVATIONS by comparing them with GOALS in evaluative QUALITY CHECKS, as you see in Diagram 2a.  In every Check-for-Quality they are asking (for the Option being evaluated) The Design Question:  “how close is the match between this Option's actual properties (that we have predicted or observed) and our desired Goal-properties?” which is asking “how high is the quality?” because Quality is defined by our Goals for a satisfactory problem-Solution.     /     When we show students this symmetry of Experimenting (done Mentally & Physically) it's an educationally useful visual organization of principles-for-process.     { We use 3 Elements (Predictions, Observations, Goals) in 3 Comparisons to ask Two Kinds of Questions:  The Design Question (in a Quality Check), and The Science Question (in a Reality Check, symbolized by the yellow-green dashed line, – – – – – , between Predictions & Observations). }

an option:  If a diagram is too small to see the details clearly, in this page it will span the full screen.

As explained below, students can learn by discovery to develop a deeper understanding of these principles for Design Process, for the elegant beauty they can see in its simplicity and symmetry.

 

A Family of Related Models:   My model for Design Process can be represented in many ways;  you can see three of them in the introduction.  This allows educational flexibility, as in a progression of learning that begins with simplicity and gradually move into deeper understanding. {iou – The rest of this subsection will be revised later, maybe during April 2022.}  Basically, a process of design is simple;  you define a problem, and try to solve the problem by creatively generating ideas and critically evaluating these ideas in creative-and-critical Cycles of Design, as described in Stage 1.  But the process is full of interesting details that you can explore more deeply in later stages.  When teachers use this progression of learning, Design Process is not just a single model, instead it's...

   All 5 stages describe the same process of design, so Stage 1 = Stage 2a = Stage 2b = Stage 3 = Stage 4.  But each stage looks at this process from a different perspective and with a different level of detail.  These perspectives produce models-for-process that are different yet related, to help you progressively construct a deeper understanding of Design Process.*   /   And for another perspective:  These models for the overall process contain smaller modes of action (that can be mental and/or physical, to Define, Generate & Evaluate, and to Coordinate) that form a semi-model.  For education, both models and semi-models are useful.   /   And we can combine principles from Design Process and other models, to construct hybrid models-for-process.

 

By combining practice (in solving problems) with principles (for solving problems)* we can help students learn how to learn more from their experiences (mental & physical) so they can improve their performing (now) and their learning (for later).     {Students can learn principles of Design Process, plus mutually supportive principles from other models-for-process.

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Experiences and Experiments

Learning from Experience:  A worthy goal for education is trying to help students learn how to learn more from their experiences so they can improve their performing-and-learning.

Experiences and Experiments:  In my broad definition,* an Experiment is any situation that produces Experience, that provides an opportunity to get Experimental Information by making Predictions (in an imagined Mental Experiment) or making Observations (in an actualized Physical Experiment),  so an Experiment is any Prediction-Situation or Observation-Situation,  so Experiments include almost everything people do, and are involved in almost everything we experience.  Your total experiences include your first-hand experiences with events you personally Observe (that you remember in your Personal Memory), plus your second-hand experiences (that you find in our Collective Memory) Observed by someone else, then later (in a report or recording) you hear it and/or see it, or (in a web-page, tweet, book,...) you read about it.

* Why are broad definitions useful for education?

 

4 Ways to USE Experiments  (i.e. to USE Experiences)

Design Process shows the central role of Experiments (Mental & Physical)* in problem solving, when you Design Experiments so you can...

    1.  USE an Experiment (Mental or Physical) to make Information (Predictions or Observations)
         { you “run” the experiment-situation mentally (by imagining it) or physically (by actualizing it) };
    2.  USE this Experimental Information to do Evaluation of an Option (e.g. of an Action, or...);
    3.  USE this Experiment-Based Evaluation to guide Generation of another Option.
 

* Mental & Physical EXPERIMENTS produce Mental & Physical EXPERIENCES , as explained above.    { Information can be old and new, made by yourself & others }

 

Below, when a box (1 2 3 3) is activated – by touching it or moving your mouse over it – you can see four isolation diagrams that show only the problem-solving actions for Use #1 (make Information) and Use #2 (do Evaluation) and Uses #3 (guide Generation for Science-Design & General Design).     {or you can see a larger diagram, but without mouse-overs}

 

In addition to 1 2 3, you can...

4.  USE the Experiment-Based Evaluation (from #2 above) to guide Generation of more Information (in #1).  This action is analogous to #3, except instead of Generating new Options (in #3) you are now (in #4) Generating new Information.   How?  You get new Information from new Experiments.  First you ask “what additional Information (Predictions or Obervations) would be useful for Evaluation?” and then, in a question to stimulate ideas for Experimental Design, “what Experiments will produce this Information?” (in 1) that you can Use in 2 & 3.

 

Of course, you will use these sequences flexibly during your problem-solving process, as described in the Introductory Overview.

 

8 Ways to Use Experiments:  In the diagram below, the left side shows "3 Ways to Use Experiments" in a simplified summary of actions in the diagram above.  And there are "8 Ways to Use Experiments" if we distinguish between 2 kinds of Information (made Mentally or Physically) and 3 kinds of Evaluation (when we "compare" in a Quality Check or Reality Check or Quality Check) to do 3 kinds of Generation (by asking revise? or revise? or revise?).

 

 

Many Ways (3 or 8) to USE EXPERIMENTS

 

INFORMATION can be old and new, made by yourself & others:  Your OBSERVATIONS can be "made when you observe what is happening in the present (new) or (old) remember what has happened in the past."  You also can use OBSERVATIONS-of-past or PREDICTIONS-for-future that are made by other people.  Thus, by combining "old and new" with "yourself & others," you can MAKE knowledge-information (OBSERVATIONS or PREDICTIONS) that is new,  and you can FIND knowledge-information that is old {is already existing} by REMEMBERING it in your personal memory or LOCATING it in our collective memory, in what is recorded {is culturally remembered} in books, web-pages, journals, audio & video recordings, etc.   Combining the two options for timing (old and new) plus sources (you & others), here are the four combinations, four ways to get Information:

   
made by
YOURSELF
made by
OTHER PEOPLE
 OLD (Remember  
 or Find)  
OBS or PRED
  in your memory  
OBS or PRED
  in cultural memory  
 NEW (Make)
OBS or PRED
in experiment
OBS or PRED
in experiment

 

And viewing things from another perspective, you can...

Learn More from Your Experiments/Experiences:  using Design Process can help you learn more from your experiences so you can improve your performing and/or learning (+ enjoying) in many areas of life.

{more about Old & New Information}

 

 

BROAD DEFINITIONS in Problem-Solving Education

Why are broad definitions useful for Problem-Solving Education?

By using BROAD DEFINITIONS (of problem & problem solving, education & experiment)* we can help students discover that their problem-solving experiences include almost everything they do in life.  This WIDE SCOPE lets us build two kinds of educational bridges — between life & school, and between subject areas in a wide-spiral curriculum — to improve transfers (of ideas-and-skills) and transitions (of attitudes).  By building-and-using these bridges, we can help a wider diversity of students (for better educational equity) by giving them a wider variety of experiences, and showing them how to learn more from their experiences, to improve their attitudes (confidence, motivations,...) and problem-solving skills in all areas of life.

* This homepage begins with definitions — of problem {as any opportunity to make things better} and problem solving {whenever you try to make things better, in any area of life} and education {it's learning from your experiences (in all areas of life, not just in school) so you can improve, so you can be more effective in making things better} — and continues with my broad defining of experiment {as any situation that produces experience, that lets you mentally make predictions or physically make observations, so an experiment is any prediction-situation or observation-situation, which includes almost everything in your own first-hand experiences and in the second-hand experiences of others}.

 

Each of us is a learner, and (in some situations) a teacher.  Broadly defined, you are being a teacher whenever you help another person learn more from their life-experiences, whether or not you're doing this consciously, whether or not you're doing it as your profession.  And if you are a professional teacher, you'll have many opportunities to help others learn more.   {my goal for this website is to help you teach more effectively, so == iou [to be continued]}

 

more:  It's educationally useful to combine broad definitions with the simplicity of Design Process* so we can more effectively show students the WIDE SCOPE of problem-solving experiences.  Later, when we help them learn-and-use the symmetry of Design Process (with analogous Mental Experiences & Physical Experiences) we are helping them develop a deeper UNDERSTANDING of their problem-solving process, and this Understanding also (along with Wide Scope) promotes transfers of ideas-and-skills in school* and into everyday life.

 

EXTRAS  —  The main benefits of broad definitions are summarized above.  Other benefits & broad definitions are examined in other parts of the website: 

My broad definition of strategy (it's one kind of problem-solving objective, along with products, activities, relationships, and explanatory theories) includes all of the decisions (small & large, in personal and professional contexts) that you frequently make in everyday life.

* With a broad definition of design thinking, students frequently use a creative-and-critical process of design thinking — a Design-Thinking Process (a Design Process) that is Problem-Solving Process — whenever they DEFINE a Problem and try to SOLVE the Problem by creatively Generating Options (for a Problem-Solution) and critically Evaluating Options, in iterative Cycles of Design.

If we broadly define our goals (for the performing & learning & enjoying of students) this can stimulate creativity in our goal-directed designing of curriculum & instruction.

A broad definition of engineering (even wider than in the NGSS Standards) will help us integrate education for STEM & non-STEM in a wide-spiral curriculum that will encourage more students to broaden their perspectives so they become open to “careers in STEM” when they improve their self-image, reduce the self-limitations on their personal goals, and this will improve educational equity.

 


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Learning by Discovery

Students can use inquiry Process to discover inquiry Principles.  How?  In a 4th Level of Learning-from-Inquiry (by combining Experience + Reflection + Principles into sequences of E+R+P)* a teacher can guide students to help them use a process-of-inquiry to DISCOVER principles-of-inquiry.

* A typical ERP-sequence (with E+R+P) begins with students getting Experiences by doing design, followed by Reflections-on-experience that help them discover Principles of Design Process, with a teacher sometimes guiding students while they experience and reflect/discover.

During the process of repeating ERP over & over, eventually — but not too early, because the process of learning principles should be “ideas first” followed later by naming & organizing — a teacher can use the structure of Design Process to guide the reflections and discoveries of students.  For example,...

    students (and teachers) can study any diagram – such as the four above – and reflect on their experiences with solving problems, asking “what part of my problem-solving process is in each part of the diagram?”
   * They (and you) can study this diagram while thinking about 3 Ways We Use Experiments (search the diagram to find "using" & "Use" & "use", 8 times) and how these 3 Ways (but it's actually 8 Ways) are connected in flexibly improvised sequences.  Also, a 4th Way to Use Experiments happens when they ask “what do we want to know?  what additional information would be useful for us?” so they can Get More Experiences by Designing More Experiments.
    Then they (and you) can click areas in this Diagram 3b` and learn more by reading my explanations of what's happening in each area.     {learning by discovery and with explanations}  
 

During their teacher-guided reflections & discussions, classroom (with Students & Teachers) actively doing Design Thinking instead of “discovering” a student is “recognizing” that during a process of design they are using skills they already know, because they already have used Design Thinking to do almost everything in their life.  When students discover (when they recall-and-recognize), they are just making their own experience-based prior knowledge — of how they have been solving problems — more explicit-and-organized within the logical framework of Design Process.     {learning by “discovery” is more effective for learning their own internal Process than for learning external Concepts}   {  Will improving their knowledge-of-process help them improve their skills in problem-solving Design Thinking?  Yes.  }

{note: here is another version of these ideas, and later I'll combine these two paragraphs}  In many ways this method of learning-by-inquiry is similar to “discovery learning” for CONCEPTS, when teachers give students experiences and promote reflections-on-experience by helping them ask “what did I (or we) do, and why?”  But compared with learning external Concepts, using this method-of-learning for their own internal PROCESS can be much more effective, because* a student is not “discovering” new actions, instead they are “recognizing” old actions, they are realizing that during a process of problem solving they are using actions-and-process they already know.  When teachers have constructed transfer-bridges from school into life, students will recognize that they already are using familiar problem-solving actions & process to do almost everything in their life.  Due to their prior experience, when we help them learn principles for process (as in Design Process) we are just directing their attention to their prior knowledge — of how they have been solving problems — and we're making this knowledge more explicit-and-organized within the logical framework of Design Process.     {improving knowledge-of-process can lead to improving skills-with-process}

 

Teachers also can Learn-by-Discovering:  Earlier I say "if you want to fully explore the diagram so you can ‘discover more’ on your own, do it now... before you read my descriptions of problem-solving process... maybe using these questions to stimulate your thinking."

3 Elements in 3 Comparison-Checksquestions to guide your exploring:  While you're studying the diagram, you may find it helpful to think about these questions:  How do you make PREDICTIONS about what will happen?  How many ways can you get OBSERVATIONS about what did happen (in the past) and is happening (in the present)?    /    Are you ever surprised by a REALITY CHECK?  if yes, why? (you can ask different levels of why-questions)   In what ways can you respond – by thinking about possible reasons for surprise (i.e. by examining all factors involved in this Reality Check) and adjusting – so you can get a better match between your PREDICTIONS and OBSERVATIONS?    /    What are the similarities & differences between the two kinds of QUALITY CHECKS?  In the context of trying to Solve a Problem, what are your GOALS?  How does a QUALITY CHECK help you determine quality? (and what defines quality?)    /    When you compare Science-Design with General Design, in what ways are the objectives (i.e. how you're trying to make things better) similar and different?   why are different comparisons used in each kind of problem-solving design?    {there is parallel symmetry between the ways we use Experience-Information that we get from imagined Mental Experiments and actualized Physical Experiments }

interactions:  In your creative-and-critical cycles of ...Generate-Evaluate-Generate-Evaluate-Generate-... how can your critical Evaluation stimulate-and-guide your creative Generation of a new Option (often made by revising an old Option) that you think might be a better match with your GOALS for a Solution, in a QUALITY CHECK?    {or might produce a better matching between PREDICTIONS & OBSERVATIONS in a REALITY CHECK.}

questions you can generate:  What else can you ask, and what other things can you wonder about (re: your process of problem solving) when you reflect on your personal experiences plus the verbal-and-visual information in this section?

Your studying of this diagram can help you develop a better understanding of problem-solving process.  And below, two results of my studying (in Methods 1 & 2) explain how Evaluation stimulates-and-guides Generation.

 

3 Elements in 3 Comparison-ChecksMethod 1 – my BASIC descriptions of this model:  When you're doing creative-and-critical cycles of Generate-Evaluate-Generate-Evaluate-... (these cycles are the focus of my simplest model) an effective way to Evaluate is to use evaluative comparisons.  How?  This diagram shows how 3 Elements are used in 3 Comparisons.  During a problem-solving process of General Design, usually you critically Evaluate an Option (for a Problem-Solution) by comparing your Goals (for the properties you want in a satisfactory Problem-Solution) with two kinds of Information about this Option — your PREDICTIONS (made when you imagine what will happen in the future) or your OBSERVATIONS (made when you observe what is happening in the present or you remember what has happened in the past) — in two kinds of Comparative Evaluations, in a Predictions-Based QUALITY CHECK or Observations-Based QUALITY CHECK.

Your evaluation of this option will help you decide whether to reject it or to accept it as-is;  or you can modify it by asking “in what ways do this option's properties (predicted or observed) differ from the desired properties that I have defined as Goals?” and then “how can I creatively modify This Option so its properties will more closely match the desired properties of my Goals?”  In this way, feedback from your critical Evaluation of This Option stimulates-and-guides your creative Generation of a New Option during your next Design Cycle in your critical-and-creative process of ...-Evaluate-and-Generate-... using interactive Cycles of Design.

In a similar way, during Science-Design the feedback from your critical Evaluation (in a Reality Check for an Explanatory Theory about “how the world works” for this aspect of Reality) can lead you to think this Theory should be revised.  Why?  If you are “surprised” because the PREDICTIONS (based on a Theory) and OBSERVATIONS (of Reality) don't match well, even though you think each kind of Information is reliable.  As in General Design, then you ask “how can I creatively-and-wisely modify This Theory so its PREDICTIONS will more closely match OBSERVATIONS of Reality?”     {or... instead of focusing only on the Theory, you can question ALL factors involved in the Reality Check – the Predictions & Observations, and their logical comparison – and for each of these, ask “what could cause errors that produced the not-close-enough matching?”}   {more about Reality Checks}

 

Guided Generation:   During both kinds of problem solving — for General Design or Science-Design, when you're trying to find a better Option (that could be a better Theory) — critical Evaluative Thinking stimulates-and-guides creative Generative Thinking, in critical-and-creative Guided Generation when you modify an Old Option to make a New Option.  This often is an effective way to creatively generate new ideas, but it isn't the only way.  For example, instead of trying to modify an Old Idea so it becomes a similar New Idea that's only slightly modified, you may want to try generating a “newer” New Idea;  you can do this by trying to reduce restrictions on your thinking – by not assuming “the way things have been” is “the way things must be” – to allow a freely creative Generation of New Ideas.    {e.g. for a way of not-assuming that is personally useful, you can develop & use a growth mindset.}

When you effectively combine creative thinking and critical thinking with relevant knowledge, the result is productive thinking.  During a process of problem solving, generative creative thinking and evaluative critical thinking can interact in mutually supportive ways, in creative-and-critical Guided Generation and in other ways.    {productive thinking}

 

Method 2 – my DETAILED descriptions of this model:  The ideas above (in Method 1) are explained with more depth in “specialty sections” you'll find by clicking on any of the 23 link-areas in a Clicker Map (made from a supplemented version of this diagram) that will open in a new pair of left-and-right pages when you click this link`.

 


 

TERMS – in my Model for Problem-Solving Process

note:  This is an earlier version of the section about my Model that includes the concepts of "sub" and "total" in sub-models forming a total-Model.  Maybe (but probably not) I'll include these two terms in later descriptions of models & Models.

Here is an explanation of terms:  my Model is a system of closely related models that are sub-models of the total-Model;  in this section, when I write model & Model (with & without capitalizing), these mean sub-model & total-Model, with model = sub-model, and Model = total-Model.   /   The Model is a family of models (i.e. the total-Model is a family of sub-models).  The models are closely-related versions of the same Model, but each model emphasizes (to focus attention on) different aspects of the Model.

a clarification:  Of course, instead of being “total” my “total Model-for-process” is a simplification of the actual “total process.”  Simplifying is a necessary part of making models, because the purpose of every model-for-process is to allow our human brains – with limited capabilities for memory & processing – to cope with the complexity of the total process, helping us “make sense of it” by constructing understandings that are simplified yet useful, that we can use to improve our problem-solving process (for self) and problem-solving education (for others).

* Why only "in this section"?  Until late 2021, I hadn't defined these m-and-M terms, so they aren't used consistently in the website because most parts of it were developed earlier, and haven't yet been revised.  But you know the terms, so you can think consistently when you see "model".

 


 

 

Motivation – Learning from Partially-Successful Experiences: 

I.O.U. – I'll return to developing this "gray box" soon, maybe in mid-July 2020.  I've already written a lot about this fascinating-and-important topic, so temporarily I'll just link to these places and quote some ideas, before eventually making an overview-summary here.  Some places-with-ideas are...

 

Moving Beyond Simple Motivation asks “What should we do if a student is motivated, but doesn't feel confident about their ability to succeed?”  We can help students develop accuracy (in self-perception) plus optimism (about their potential for improvement and growth) with a “not yet” attitude toward failure so they can learn from all of their experiences and “do it better” in their future.   /   This optimism is easier if students have a growth mindset based on an incremental theory of intelligence — believing that their intelligence (and intellectual performance) can be improved, can “grow” through their efforts — because an "incremental" view-of-self promotes a confident belief that their efforts to self-improve will be rewarded.    { iou - later there also will be a paragraph about students being motivated by short-term pleasures and long-term satisfactions}

 

Learning from ALL Experience (from failure and success):  You can learn from ALL experience, whether you view the result as a failure or success, or (more likely) some of each. [i.e. in most areas there is a continuum-range from total failure to total success]  A feeling that “I could have done better, and I want to do better” can motivate you to reflect on what happened (the situation, your actions, the results) so you will learn more from the experience.  You can say, along with Maya Angelou, "I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better."  And a feeling that “I did it well” can inspire you to eagerly look for more problems to solve, in school and life.

 

Learning from Partial Success:  We are educated when we learn from life-experiences.  We can learn from ALL experience, from both failure and success.  Below you'll find examples from my experiences (first-hand & second-hand, personal & vicarious) with solving, improvising, driving, juggling, skiing, backhanding, pronouncing, and welding.   /   iou - Later, I'll “say a little” about each paragraph (re: solving, improvising,... welding) and there will be more old ideas (about motivated reasoning & changing-of-views) plus a few new ideas.

improvising music -- My page about Music Improvisation encouraging you to "Experiment... just Relax and Learn:  You may feel more free to creatively explore different ways of making your own music if you experiment in low-risk situations — when nobody (not you or anyone else) cares about the quality or klunkers — and listen carefully for feedback, to discover what does and doesn't work well, to gain valuable experience.  Instead of worrying about the possibility of mistakes, just relax-and-do, listen and learn."

driving a car -- distinguish between situations when a mistake won't matter much (so take risks, relax, enjoy, learn) and when a mistake would be costly (so avoid a mistake);  but you can mentally practice (with mental rehearsal) to prepare for dangerous situations, so IF one of them happens, you'll be prepared to respond correctly;  and to improve some skills, you can physically practice in low-risk situations; 

 


Control of iFrames:  A link at the top-right corner of each page lets you put it into the left frame or into the right frame if it isn't already there.*   Why is this useful?   Because when a page is on its proper side, the page remains visible while you explore its links, which open in the other frame;  this lets you click links without “losing your place” in the current page.   And because you can see both pages at the same time, you can more easily combine (in your thinking) what both pages are saying about related aspects of a topic;  seeing both pages is always useful, but is especially valuable for mentally combining visual & verbal information, as in the Overview of Design Process`.

* Or use the first link in every page (or occasional links later in the page) that look like this` with an extra ` at the end, as in the link above, for "Overview of...".


 

I.O.U. - Please ignore what's in this gray box until later, when (maybe in late 2021) these “rough notes for myself” will be used to write a section for an earlier part of this page.

 

stdp2 [enginrg] // short-term strategy-actions in DP, longer phases in other modelsmcpaldef cmgo

broad definitions are especially useful for promoting transfers of learning.

understanding [quote] -- ws#trorg

 

{* a teacher can use personally-customized guiding to adjust the difficulty level for different students}  

 

EXTRAS:

coordination -- argmtn [where?]

transition -- The educational usefulness of broad definitions is emphasized throughout this website, because broad definitions

detailed @ NGSS -- st-te.htm#map -- in the context of Next Generation Science Standards, NGSS. -- observation & prediction & experiments

EXPERIMENT -- We can stimulate the creative thinking of students — by letting them reduce restrictive assumptions about what an "experiment" is, thus encouraging them to explore this wide variety of Options for Experimental Systems — by using a simple, broad, minimally restrictive definition:

 

use earlier, for 123-4 --> MORE ---- with clear, less condensed (i.e. using more words, thus requiring less “discovery” by a reader) descriptions of 4 Ways to Use Experiments (or is it 8 ways?)* in flexibly improvised short-term Functional Sequences – and how critical Evaluation of Ideas stimulates-and-guides creative Generation of Ideas in Design Cycles & Science Cycles.

 

photos:  Soon, I want to put more pictures (of students & teachers) into this website to further “humanize” it, because Design Thinking — and education for Design Thinking — is about people with stories.     { The current photos are from DEEPdt - DEEP design thinking: a human-centered approach to learning, creating, & being through Empathy. }

 

Link for Verbal-and-Visual Overview

 

 

 
Extras:  Tips for Using This Website plus information about
the website and me (Craig Rusbult) and my Ideas for Education.

 

If you want to discuss any of these ideas,
you can contact me, <crusbult@wisc.edu> ;
Craig Rusbult, Ph.D. - my life on a road less traveled

 

URLs for the two pages in this left/right frameset are:
left side - https://educationforproblemsolving.net/design-thinking/home.htm
right side - https://educationforproblemsolving.net/design-thinking/ws.htm
frameset - https://mywebspace.wisc.edu/crusbult/web/design/index.htm

 

Copyright © 1978-2019 by Craig Rusbult.  All Rights Reserved.