The authors presenting these model formulas deserve praise,
as many authors writing on problem solving do not give a clear cut model
Source: Against Method (1988) by Paul
Comment: We start off with a formula that has a bit
of humor but also an element of truth considering what often goes on in public
The author complains that social problems, problems of
energy distribution, ecology, education, care for the elderly, etc., are
- A problem arises.
- Nothing is done about it.
- People get concerned.
- Politicians broadcast this concern.
- Experts are called in.
- They develop theories and plans.
- Power groups with their own experts effect various
modifications until a watered down version is accepted and realized.
The end result is an ideological theory of human needs
produced by “abstract models” as opposed to a realistic study produced by
Note that the above formula illustrates why in public policy
making, a model formula such as SM-14 is needed.
Source: You’re Smarter Than You Think (1985)
by Linda Moore
Comment: The author points out that these are the
“steps of the problem solving process.”
- Recognize the problem
- Define the problem
- Is this really your problem?
- Gather more data
- Come to a conclusion
- Test your hypothesis
Source: The Triarchic Mind (1988) by Robert J.
Comment: 7 step problem solving
|“7 executive processes critical to intelligent problem
- Recognize problem
- Define problem
- Generate solution
- Put steps for solving in proper order
- Decide how to represent information
- Allocate mental and physical resources
- Monitor solution
Source: Team Planning for Educational Leaders: A
Training Handbook (1987) by Rima Miller
Comment: The author terms these “the problem-solving
- Identifying the problem
- Generating alternatives
- Assessing alternatives
- Selecting a solution
Source: Living Psychology (1970) by Gerald L. Hershey
and James O. Lugo
Comment: The author says, “The scientific method employs the
same steps most of us use in thinking about and solving everyday problems:
- Defining the problem
- Planning a method of attack
- Carrying out the plan
- Evaluating the results”
Source: Essay by Robert J. Sternberg in Essays on
the Intellect (1985) edited by Frances R. Link
Comment: This formula is abstracted from Figure 3.1
in the essay Gubbin’s Matrix of Thinking Skills, Part 1.
I. Problem Solving
- Identifying general problem
- Clarifying problem
- Formulating hypothesis
- Formulating appropriate questions
- Generating related ideas
- Formulating alternative solutions
- Choosing best solution
- Applying the solution
- Monitoring acceptance of the solution
- Drawing conclusions
Source: Teaching Thinking: Issues and Approaches (1990) by Swartz and Perkins
Comment: The author says these are “strategies and
attitudes involved in problem solving.” Another 7 step problem solving.
- Do not settle for the first plan that presents itself.
- Search vigorously for alternatives.
- Examine how you present the problem to yourself.
a. Are there unnecessary assumptions?
b. How else could the problem be conceived?
- List possible solutions uncritically; then sift them.
- Carefully make a comparative evaluation of alternatives
- Maintain attitudes of
b. playful exploration
- Apply subskills of creative thinking.
Source: Problem Based Learning (1994) by
Donald R. Woods
Comment: Department of Chemical Engineering, McMaster University. Excellent books on problem solving for engineering students.
- Engage: I want to and I can
- Define stated problem
- Explore: create internal idea of problem
- Plan a solution
- Do it; carry out a plan. Evaluate and look back
Source: The Psychology of Thinking: McGraw-Hill
Series in Psychology (1952)
Comment: Note that the author uses stages, not steps.
|“Three stages in analyzing behavior in a problem solving
- Confrontation by a problem (situation, realization,
- Working toward a solution (mental or symbolic processes,
manipulation of materials, verbalization)
- Solution (results in the individual, results in
Source: How to Solve Problem by the Scientific
Method (1968) by Gould and Richard
Comment: The author says, “Six basic steps, no more –
no less, in solving any problem, whether it be mathematical or literary.”
- Determine the problem
- Determine the “given” facts which define the limitations
of the situation, information with which we can begin the problem
- Assemble the necessary “related” facts
- Combine the “given” information of Step 2 with the
“related” information of Step 3
- The proper combination of given and related facts, as
accomplished in Step 4, will automatically result in the correct solution to
- Check the analysis and solution for accuracy.
Source: Creative Education Foundation, 289 Bay Road, Hadley, MA 01035, www.creativeeducationfoundation.org
Comment: They specialize in creative problem solving.
Since about 1953 they have taught this model formula for creative problem
solving (without reference to scientific method) to millions of seminar
attendees and others. They have a wide variety of material on creative problem
Current Osborn-Parness Process:
Source: The Shape of Automation (1965) by
Comment: While Simon, often called the father of
artificial intelligence, is talking about decision making, you must remember
that decision making is just a form of problem solving.
“Nevertheless, the three large phases are often clearly
discernible as the organizational process unfolds. They are closely related to
the stages in problem solving first described by John Dewey:
What is the problem?
What are the alternatives?
Which alternative is best?”
For model formulas for the scientific method, see Research
Report #11, Steps of the Scientific Method – Model Formulas from the Literature at www.scientificmethod.com.
For model formulas for decision making, see Research Report
#4, Models, Systems, Guides for Decision Making in the Literature, at www.decisionmaking.org.