Problem Solving

I spent a chunk of my morning looking at the problem of problem solving. Some people maintain that problem solving is “hard”,  others that “It’s up to the individual”. We know that is bunkum and everyone can problem solve, yes it takes time and effort to develop the skills but once they are developed problem solving tasks become easier, not easy, just easier.

I found quite a few articles and a lot of guidance, I even got side tracked by PBL. Finally I settled on what I want to say and it comes from this article, I have edited the steps slightly.

  1. Step back and look at the situation. Write down the problem and include all the points so that you can see it clearly. Sometimes, problems seem large and overwhelming. Writing it down gives you something to work with.
  2. Define the problem and then break it into smaller pieces. Look at each part of the problem instead of the large overall problem. It’s easier to deal with smaller pieces of a problem.
  3. Research the causes of the problem. Pull the problem apart and analyze each part. Break it into smaller steps so that it is not so overwhelming.
  4. Brainstorm for ideas or solutions to the problem. Look at the problem objectively and scientifically.
  5. Test your theory. Solve the problem in your head using one of your ideas. Follow each step. Make sure it will work before you proceed in real life. Keep trying to find new solutions if the first one doesn’t work.
  6. Research possible solutions if you can’t come up with any yourself.
  7. Look at examples of how other people have solved problems. Learn by example. Find out what obstacles they have overcome and apply the solutions to your own life.
You might recognise those steps, at least a few of them, they are very similar to the waterfall method. I know problem solving is hard and that you feel at times that you just are not getting anywhere, but I would like to share one of the slides from this article with you.
You can become an experienced problem solver but it takes time and effort.
  • Keep an open mind and have confidence, you can do it
  • Think about what worked before and if you can improve on it
  • Write things down, try things out, aim for a solution
  • Don’t give up!


To finish up I asked Google a question. I know I have said this in class but to become an expert requires time, the articles say 10,000 hours or 10 years, for anything. So if you want to be a musician it will take you a while to get there. It doesn’t take as long to be an expert in CoD but it does require you to put in the hours which is why there is a prestige mode. To become and good problem solver and programmer takes time, you need to put the time in both at home in class to increase your skills.