0
1Solving Problems in Groups
©2008, University of Vermont and PACER Center
Solving Problems
in Groups
2
Objectives
• Identify the steps needed to engage in
effective group problem-solving
• Participate in a group problem-sol...
3
Essential Questions
• What are the steps to effective problem-
solving?
• How can a group problem-solving process
be use...
4
Agenda
• Discussion: Introduction to problem-
solving processes (15 minutes)
• Case study presentations (2): Using the
g...
5
Overview of the Problem-
Solving Process
• Discussion: As a while group, identify your
experiences with problem-solving
...
6
Seven Steps to Effective
Problem Solving
• Step 1: Decide whether or not there is a
problem to solve.
• Step 2: Identify...
7
Step 1: Decide whether or not
there is a problem to solve
• The first step in problem-solving is to
consider the degree ...
8
Step 2: Identify and clarify the
problem
• If the problem is worth solving, the next step is for the group to
develop an...
9
Step 3: Generate potential
solutions
• This step involves brainstorming many potential
solutions to the problem. The fol...
10
Step 4: Evaluate potential
solutions
• The next step is for group members to spend time
evaluating potential solutions....
11
Step 5: Select a solution
• Based on the criteria identified in the
previous step, the group should choose
the solution...
12
Step 6: Implement the
solution(s)
• In the final steps of problem-solving, the
group develops an action plan outlining
...
13
Sample Implementation
Plan
Action Step Activity to
be
completed
Person(s)
Responsible
Likely
Outcomes
Evaluation
Criter...
14
Step 7: Evaluate the Outcomes
of Implementation
• In the evaluation phase, groups apply the
evaluation criteria specifi...
15
Activity: Two Case Studies
• Now it’s your turn!
• It’s now time for 1 -2 of you to present an issue
that you would lik...
16
Step 1: Decide whether or not
there is a problem to solve
• Timeline: None: You’ve already decided
to present this prob...
17
Step 2: Identify and clarify the
problem
• Timeline: 10 minutes
• Tips for presenter: Present your issue (a.k.a.
proble...
18
Step 3: Generate potential
solutions
• Timeline: 5 minutes
• Tips for presenters: Listen and try to remain
open to pote...
19
Step 4: Evaluate potential
solutions
• Timeline: 5 minutes
• Tips for presenters: While you may be in the
best position...
20
Step 5: Select a solution
• Timeline: 2 minutes
• Tips for presenters: Look at the criteria that have
been generated to...
21
Final Discussion and
Reflections
• As a group, discuss the parts of today’s
presentation that were most interesting
and...
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Group problem solving by mihaela-alexandrina cenusa

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  • This module begins with a brief discussion of problem-solving and the experiences that participants have had to date regarding effective and ineffective approaches to problem-solving, as well as the rationale for understanding and using effective approaches. Following the discussion, you may want to introduce the idea that problem-solving is a skill that can be learned and applied in a variety of group settings. Before beginning the next few slides that outline the problem-solving process, let participants know that the last portion of the module will be spent on using the process with real-life issues supplied by two volunteers. As such, participants should be thinking about whether or not they would like to volunteer to present an issue.
  • The seven steps described on this slide should be quickly introduced. Each is described separately in the next seven slides.
  • Step 1: Decide whether or not there is a problem to be solved. The problem-solving process described over the next nine slides is the result of a review of several problem-solving processes that are being written about in the literature on collaboration, policy development, and problem-solving (see Friend & Cook, 2003; Wheelan, 2005). Most of these processes follow the same basic outline, so a set of “generic” steps is presented here. The first step in problem-solving is to consider the degree to which the individual or group has “ownership” of the problem and whether or not the problem has the potential to be solved (e.g., is it worth the time and effort needed to solve it?). It may be helpful to ask the question: “What might happen if the problem were not addressed?” Individuals and groups need to think about the degree to which they a choice as to whether or not to solve the problem. In addition, groups should consider whether or not they have the authority to implement potential solutions to the problem. If none of these criteria are met, it may be better to select another problem or to re-frame the problem so that it is possible to address a portion of the original issue. You should remind participants that it is often helpful to designate people who will take on the roles of facilitator and recorder in the problem-solving process. Groups who have been engaging in problem-solving for a long time may be able to complete the process without these roles, but newer groups almost always need to use a more structured problem-solving process.
  • Step 2: Identify and clarify the problem. If the problem is worth solving, the next step is to present the “big idea” or “mess” (this might also be known as a “case study” or “issue”) to the larger group so that it can be further discussed and understood. The initial statement of the problem needs to be explored from a variety of perspectives so that groups can gain a common understanding of the issue and develop a sense that they are solving the “right” problem. As part of this step, groups need to ask clarifying questions and collect data from multiple sources. These data may shed light on the causes of the problem, the magnitude of the problem, and solutions that have been tried in the past. Be sure to emphasize the fact that this step comprises one of the most essential steps of problem-solving. If groups don’t spend time identifying the real problem, they often come up with superficial or ineffective solutions to a poorly identified problem. They may also proceed to solution finding before they have developed a common understanding of the problem. Following these initial discussions of the problem, the group should pause to re-stated the problem as clearly as possible, in a way that does not imply a solution.
  • Step 3: Generate potential solutions. Step three involves brainstorming many potential solutions to the problem. You should help the group to understand that effective brainstorming is not just a “free for all” conversation. Instead, it has its own set of ground rules. These include: Generating as many ideas as possible without judging others’ ideas or identifying details of implementation. If groups go too quickly to identifying the details of how a solution can be implemented, they will find themselves able to focus on only one or two solutions. Record everyone’s ideas, either individually (e.g., post-it notes) or publicly (e.g., flip chart paper). The facilitator of the problem-solving process needs to ensure that all participants have the opportunity to offer solutions and have their ideas recorded. The idea here is to be creative, have fun, and come up with as many solutions as possible!
  • Step 4: Evaluate potential solutions. Next, group members should spend time evaluating potential solutions. The following suggestions may help to make this process simple and effective: Generate a list of 5 -7 criteria that group members can use to determine whether or not a potential solution will be effective (e.g., time required, likely outcome, resources required, including human resources and cost). It is most helpful to clarify and quantify the criteria by specifying things such as how much time the group would be willing to spend on a solution, what types of outcomes are desired, the amount of money they might be willing to spend on implementing a solution, etc. For example, a group might generate criteria such as: Our solution needs to be something that we can implement within one week Our solution needs to cost less than $200 Our solution needs to be one that will increase this student’s independence Our solution needs to be implemented using the talents of our current group members Use the criteria to rate individual potential solutions . Groups should utilize the criteria identified above to consider each potential solution identified in step 4. If desired, the group may develop a matrix that lists criteria across the top and potential solutions on the side. As each solution is considered and discussed in terms of each criterion, a check mark or numbering system can be used to see how that solution “stacks up” against the criterion. Avoid getting bogged down in discussing the details at this time . While some details will be discussed in the course of considering potential solutions against the criteria, groups should avoid developing a full implementation plan until they have selected one or more options for solving the problem.
  • Step 5: Select a solution. Based on the evaluation steps listed above, the group should choose the solution(s) that seem most likely to solve the problem. Often, groups will find that the best solutions involve a combination of more than one potential solution. Ideally, solutions should be selected by consensus. At times, however, groups may find that they need to compromise on the selection of a solution, or to take a vote about which solutions will be tried first. If the group finds that multiple solutions make sense, it may need to prioritize the list to decide which ones can be implemented first and make a plan for future implementation of additional solutions.
  • Step 6: Implement the solution. In the final steps of problem-solving, the group develops an action plan outlining how to implement the solution. The plan should include action steps for implementation, responsibilities for specific steps, target completion dates, and an evaluation plan, including timelines. An outline of a sample implementation plan appears on the next slide.
  • Step 7: Evaluate the solution. In the evaluation phase, groups apply the evaluation criteria to determine the degree to which the solution worked. If it works: Celebrate successes! If it doesn’t: Try again! Problem-solving is an ongoing process, and it is often the case the implementation needs to be re-visited and revised on a regular basis.
  • In the activity that follows, one or two participants volunteer to present a problem to the group. The group then goes through the first five steps of the problem-solving process so that they can experience how the process works. The slides for each step give a suggested time line for completion, as well as tips for the presenter and the participants who are engaging in the process. If time allows, complete the process twice so that groups can see how it works for different types of problems.
  • As the instructor, your main role throughout the problem-solving process is to remind the group which step they are on, and keep the group on task and within the suggested time lines. During the original presentation of the problem, it is important for participants to listen carefully before asking clarifying questions. During clarification, it is important for the presenter to listen carefully and to remaining open to the possibility that he/she will re-state the problem in a slightly different way. Your task at the end of this step is to ask the presenter to re-state the problem, possibly in a different way than was originally presented.
  • At the start of this step, you may wish to ask one of the participants to record potential solutions. If no one volunteers, you may do this! Following the completion of this module, you can give the list to the presenter for their future reference.
  • Depending on the time you have to complete this module, you may find that you can do only one case study and/or that you may only get as far as having participants generate potential solutions. If this is the case, remind participants which steps would follow if they were to complete this activity in a “real life” setting.
  • Step five concludes the practice portion for this module. The tips on the slide provide some ideas for presenters and participants to use in giving one another feedback on the activity. If you have time, repeat the process with another volunteer. If not, conclude the module with the discussion question on the next slide.
  • The final reflection questions are intended to help participants reflect on their most important learning of the day and the ways in which they might use this information in the future.
  • Transcript of "Group problem solving by mihaela-alexandrina cenusa"

    1. 1. 1Solving Problems in Groups ©2008, University of Vermont and PACER Center Solving Problems in Groups
    2. 2. 2 Objectives • Identify the steps needed to engage in effective group problem-solving • Participate in a group problem-solving activity related to participants’ issues
    3. 3. 3 Essential Questions • What are the steps to effective problem- solving? • How can a group problem-solving process be used to address real-life issues among parent leaders?
    4. 4. 4 Agenda • Discussion: Introduction to problem- solving processes (15 minutes) • Case study presentations (2): Using the group problem-solving format for two case study presentations (20 minutes each) • Discussion and Reflections: How can problem-solving be improved in real-life situations? (5 minutes)
    5. 5. 5 Overview of the Problem- Solving Process • Discussion: As a while group, identify your experiences with problem-solving processes you have used in group settings. Think about: – Effective approaches to problem-solving – Ineffective approaches to problem-solving – Rationale for understanding and using more effective approaches to problem-solving
    6. 6. 6 Seven Steps to Effective Problem Solving • Step 1: Decide whether or not there is a problem to solve. • Step 2: Identify and clarify the problem. • Step 3: Generate potential solutions. • Step 4: Evaluate potential solutions. • Step 5: Select a solution. • Step 6: Implement the solution. • Step 7: Evaluate the outcomes.
    7. 7. 7 Step 1: Decide whether or not there is a problem to solve • The first step in problem-solving is to consider the degree to which the individual or group has “ownership” of the problem, and whether or not the problem has the potential to be solved (e.g., is it worth the time and effort needed to solve it?). • It may be helpful to ask the question: What might happen if the problem were not addressed by this group?
    8. 8. 8 Step 2: Identify and clarify the problem • If the problem is worth solving, the next step is for the group to develop an understanding of the “big idea” or “mess” to the larger group. • Before attempting to solve the problem, take time to explore group members’ perspectives on the issue. The group should ask: What is the problem? “How does the problem reveal itself to this group?” • If possible, collect additional data from multiple sources that will help to further clarify the problem. These data may shed light on the causes of the problem, the magnitude of the problem, and solutions that have been tried in the past. • Don’t rush to solution-finding: If groups don’t spend time identifying the real problem, they often come up with superficial or ineffective solutions. • Following initial discussions of the problem, the group should pause to re-state the problem, in a way that does not imply a solution.
    9. 9. 9 Step 3: Generate potential solutions • This step involves brainstorming many potential solutions to the problem. The following “ground rules” of brainstorming will help to ensure that this step involves all group members. – Generate as many ideas as possible without judging others’ ideas or identifying details of implementation. – Record potential ideas, either individually (e.g., post- it notes) or publicly (e.g., flip chart paper). – Make sure that every group member has the opportunity to provide a solution and that all ideas are recorded and respected. – Be creative, have fun, and come up with as many solutions as possible!
    10. 10. 10 Step 4: Evaluate potential solutions • The next step is for group members to spend time evaluating potential solutions. The following suggestions may help to make this process simple and effective: – Generate a list of 5 -7 criteria that group members can use to determine whether or not a potential solution will be effective (e.g., time required, likely outcome, resources required, including human resources and cost). – Use the criteria to rate individual potential solutions. – Avoid getting bogged down in discussing the details at this time.
    11. 11. 11 Step 5: Select a solution • Based on the criteria identified in the previous step, the group should choose the solution that seem most likely to solve the problem. • Often, groups will find that the best solutions involve a combination of more than one potential solution.
    12. 12. 12 Step 6: Implement the solution(s) • In the final steps of problem-solving, the group develops an action plan outlining how to implement the solution. • The plan should include action steps for implementation, responsibilities for specific steps, target completion dates, and an evaluation plan, including timelines.
    13. 13. 13 Sample Implementation Plan Action Step Activity to be completed Person(s) Responsible Likely Outcomes Evaluation Criteria Timeline for Completion
    14. 14. 14 Step 7: Evaluate the Outcomes of Implementation • In the evaluation phase, groups apply the evaluation criteria specified in the action plan to determine the degree to which the solution worked. • Look back at the criteria developed to select the solution (see Step 4). Some of these criteria may be re-worded as evaluation criteria for the implementation plan. • If it works: Celebrate successes! If it doesn’t: Try again!
    15. 15. 15 Activity: Two Case Studies • Now it’s your turn! • It’s now time for 1 -2 of you to present an issue that you would like the group to use to illustrate the problem-solving process. • The slides that follow show each of the steps, with timelines and tips for both “presenters” and “participants.” • The goal of this activity is to practice with steps 1 – 5 of the problem-solving process.
    16. 16. 16 Step 1: Decide whether or not there is a problem to solve • Timeline: None: You’ve already decided to present this problem! • Tips for Presenter: Choose a problem that you are willing to share with the group and is important to you yet simple enough for participants to understand. • Tips for Participants: Get ready to listen.
    17. 17. 17 Step 2: Identify and clarify the problem • Timeline: 10 minutes • Tips for presenter: Present your issue (a.k.a. problem) in 5 minutes or less, with enough detail so that participants can understand the problem. When you are done presenting your problem, ask participants for clarifying questions. Following clarification, re-state your problem. • Tips for participants: Listen to the original problem. Ask clarifying questions that help the group to understand the problem and help the presenter to re-state the problem.
    18. 18. 18 Step 3: Generate potential solutions • Timeline: 5 minutes • Tips for presenters: Listen and try to remain open to potential solutions. Avoid statements such as “I tried that before and it didn’t work.” • Tips for participants: Remember the ground rules for brainstorming. If possible, one of you can record the group’s suggestions. Make sure everyone who wants to participate has the opportunity to do so.
    19. 19. 19 Step 4: Evaluate potential solutions • Timeline: 5 minutes • Tips for presenters: While you may be in the best position to identify the criteria to be used in selecting one or more solutions to your problem, be sure to listen to others’ suggested criteria. • Tips for participants: Try to put yourselves in the presenter’s shoes as you identify potential support that person in identifying potential selection criteria.
    20. 20. 20 Step 5: Select a solution • Timeline: 2 minutes • Tips for presenters: Look at the criteria that have been generated to choose among the potential solutions to your problem. Explain your thinking to the group and let them know in what ways their input helped you to think differently about your problem and/or to choose a solution. • Tips for participants: Give the presenter some feedback for their willingness to share a problem and to receive input regarding potential solutions.
    21. 21. 21 Final Discussion and Reflections • As a group, discuss the parts of today’s presentation that were most interesting and helpful to you. What were your “ah- ha” moments? • Finally, think about ways that problem- solving can be improved in your own work situations.
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