Building University-Industry Learning and Development
through Innovation and Technology
BRANSFORD’S IDEAL MODEL: CONFLICT & PROBLEM RESOLUTION
A MODEL FOR PROBLEM
Identify the problem
Define the problem
Explore possible solutions for the problem
Apply solutions to the problem
Look at and learn from the effects of the solution
* Model developed by John Bransford in the 1980’s
IDENTIFY THE PROBLEM
A problem can be identified through these
1. The difference between what is
observed and what is expected.
2. The discrepancy between what we want
and what we get.
- Deno (2010)
IDENTIFY THE PROBLEM
“Conflict arises from differences, both large and small. It occurs
whenever people disagree over their values, motivations, perceptions,
ideas, or desires. Sometimes these differences appear trivial, but
when a conflict triggers strong feelings, a deep personal need is often
at the core of the problem. These needs can be a need to feel safe
and secure, a need to feel respected and valued, or a need for greater
closeness and intimacy.”
- Seagal and Smith (2016)
DEFINING THE PROBLEM
Try to accurately determine the cause of the problem.
Look at this problem through various lenses to try and
understand the problem at its core.
Is this a personal or professional problem?
Are you concerned about money, feelings, respect,
health, et cetera?
Are you being honest with yourself and others?
Once you understand your problem better, you
should begin to understand yourself better as well.
Photo by Kevin Labianco
EXPLORE POSSIBLE SOLUTIONS
• This will be the most time-consuming step
in the process.
• As scientists, you know that gathering
information can be tedious.
• Take time to consult with family, friends,
colleagues, or someone who can help you
explore possible solutions in an unbiased
• Once you feel like you have gathered
enough information and have spoken with
the right people, now you can attempt to
apply your solution(s) to the problem.
APPLY SOLUTIONS TO THE PROBLEM
Problems very rarely resolve themselves. We need to take action and apply
the solutions to the problem.
• The first solution you attempt may not resolve the problem.
• Think about a student who wants to improve his/her grade at the end of
the semester. What solutions could the student use to solve this problem?
Siting unfairness in the grading system
Shifting blame to the professor
Appealing to emotion
Asking for a second chance on an exam
Asking for the opportunity to complete ”extra credit” work
Filing a grievance with the dean
While many of these “solutions” won’t get the students what they want, they
are testing different solutions to resolve their problem.
LOOK AT AND LEARN FROM THE
EFFECTS OF THE SOLUTION
The last step in this process is where you get to analyze the
effectiveness of your solution.
Were you successful or does your solution need revision?
Are all parties satisfied with the resolution?
You may notice that this process can take a bit of time. However,
the more you use this process, the more efficient it should become
in your life.
Sometimes, you may need to “tweak” your process a bit to adapt
to the problem you are currently handling.
Learn from the both the process and your mistakes.
Please print the worksheet that related to this
lesson and bring it to the face-to-face session.
You will be using this process as you plan your
• Bransford, J. & Stein, B. (1984). The IDEAL Problem Solver: A guide for
improving thinking, learning, and creativity. New Youk: W.H. Freeman.
• Deno, Stan. (2010). The Problem Solving Model: An Interview with Dr. Stan
Deno. Research Institute for Problem Solving. The University of Minnesota.
• Deno, S.L. (2005). Problem Solving Assessment. In R. Brown-Chidsey
(Ed.)., Assessment for intervention: A problem solving approach (pp.
10-42). New York: Guilford Press.
• Segal, J. & Smith, M. (2016). Conflict Resolution Skills. Helpguide.org.