• Creating Environments Conducive to Social Interaction
  • Thinking Ethically: A Framework for Moral Decision Making
  • Developing a Positive Climate with Trust and Respect
  • Developing Self-Esteem, Confidence, Resiliency, and Mindset
  • Developing Ability to Consider Different Perspectives
  • Developing Tools and Techniques Useful in Social Problem-Solving
  • Leadership Problem-Solving Model
  • A Problem-Solving Model for Improving Student Achievement

Six-Step Problem-Solving Model

  • Hurson’s Productive Thinking Model: Solving Problems Creatively
  • The Power of Storytelling and Play
  • Creative Documentation & Assessment
  • Materials for Use in Creating “Third Party” Solution Scenarios
  • Resources for Connecting Schools to Communities
  • Resources for Enabling Students

weblink:  http://www.yale.edu/bestpractices/resources/docs/problemsolvingmodel.pdf

This six-step model is designed for the workplace, but is easily adaptable to other settings such as schools and families.  It emphasizes the cyclical , continuous nature of the problem-solving process .  The model describes in detail the following steps:

Step One:   Define the Problem

Step Two:   Determine the Root Cause(s) of the Problem

Step Three:   Develop Alternative Solutions

Step Four:   Select a Solution

Step Five:   Implement the Solution

Step Six:   Evaluate the Outcome

Floor Tape Store

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

  • The Six-Step Problem-Solving Process
  • Select the problem to be analyzed
  • Clearly define the problem and establish aprecise problem statement
  • Set a measurable goal for the problem solving effort
  • Establish a process for coordinating with and gaining approval of leadership
  • Identify the processes that impact the problem and select one
  • List the steps in the process as it currently exists
  • Map the Process
  • Validate the map of the process
  • Identify potential cause of the problem
  • Collect and analyze data related to the problem
  • Verify or revise the original problem statement
  • Identify root causes of the problem
  • Collect additional data if needed to verify root causes
  • Establish criteria for selecting a solution
  • Generate potential solutions that will address the root causes of the problem
  • Select a solution
  • Gain approval and supporter the chosen solution
  • Plan the solution
  • Implement the chosen solution on a trial or pilot basis
  • If the Problem Solving Process is being used in conjunction with the Continuous Improvement Process, return to Step 6 of the Continuous Improvement Process
  • If the Problem Solving Process is being used as a standalone, continue to Step 5
  • Gather data on the solution
  • Analyze the data on the solution
  • Achive the desired results?
  • If YES, go to Step 6. 
  • If NO, go back to Step 1.
  • Identify systemic changes and training needs for full implementation
  • Adopt the solution
  • Plan ongoing monitoring of the solution
  • Continue to look for incremental improvements to refine the solution
  • Look for another improvement opportunity


Tim, This is a good guideline for any practitioner to follow. I wish I had this a few weeks ago. A client liked a training deck I prepared but didn't want to confuse anyone with terms like Deming Cycle and such. The final version of PDCA was a 6 step process improvement method that's very similar to yours. Thanks for sharing. Cheers, Chris

Thank you for you brief and easy to understand on each step problem solving above.

Wonderful. Well Explained. Thank you for sharing

I mapped this to PDCA and observed that the first 3 steps correspond to P, the next 3 to D, C and A respectively. This Show that indeed planning is the most important step in PDCA.

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Quick Links

Big6 process model, big6™ process model.

The Big6™ is a process model for information problem-solving. It integrates information search and use skills along with technology tools in a systematic process to find, use, apply, and evaluate information for specific needs and tasks.

The Big6 was developed by Mike Eisenberg and Bob Berkowitz and is the most widely known and widely used approach to teaching information and technology skills in the world. It is used in thousands of K-12 schools, higher education institutions, and corporate and adult training programs and is applicable whenever people need and use information ( source : http://www.big6.com/2001/11/19/a-big6%E2%84%A2-skills-overview/ ).

The Big6 model has been adopted at the Dubai Women's College and is part of the curriculum. Although students may find this page helpful, especially the table below, the reference materials are for educators.

Here is a summary of the information literacy experience using the Big6 model as a framework:

Reference Documents - Step 1

Articles © Linworth Publishing, Inc

Reference Documents - Step 2

Reference documents - step 3, reference documents - step 4, reference documents - step 5, reference documents - step 6, other references.

Physics Network

What are the 6 steps of problem solving?

  • Step 1: Identify and define the problem. State the problem as clearly as possible.
  • Step 2: Generate possible solutions.
  • Step 3: Evaluate alternatives.
  • Step 4: Decide on a solution.
  • Step 5: Implement the solution.
  • Step 6: Evaluate the outcome.

What are the steps to problem solving in physics?

  • Read the problem.
  • Draw a diagram.
  • State the known and unknown variables.
  • State the equations (formulae).
  • Solve the equation(s).
  • Substitute known values into the solved equation.
  • Calculate unknown from known values.
  • Check final answer for reasonability.

What is problem solving in physics?

The idea is to figure out exactly what the problem is and then develop a strategy for solving it. Some general advice for this stage is as follows: Examine the situation to determine which physical principles are involved. It often helps to draw a simple sketch at the outset.

Why following the 6 steps of problem solving process is important?

The Six-Step method provides a focused procedure for the problem solving (PS) group. techniques on the same issue. It makes the decision making process easier. It provides a justifiable solution.

Who created the 6 step problem solving model?

In this article, we will introduce the six-step problem solving process defined by Edgar Schein, so that teams trained in this can find the best solution to a problem and create an action plan.

What are the six steps of the problem solving method quizlet?

  • Identify the problem.
  • analyze the problem.
  • Determine Criteria for judging solutions.
  • Identify Alternative Solutions.
  • evaluate solutions and decide.
  • implement the agreed solution.

What is the first step in problem solving for physics?

1. Identify the Problem (Dynamics) Any problem that asks you to relate force and motion is a Newton’s Second Law problem, no matter what was given or requested in the problem. In some cases, Newton’s Second Law is easy to identify—for example, a problem might ask you for the value of a particular force.

What are the 7 steps problem solving?

  • 7 Steps for Effective Problem Solving.
  • Step 1: Identifying the Problem.
  • Step 2: Defining Goals.
  • Step 3: Brainstorming.
  • Step 4: Assessing Alternatives.
  • Step 5: Choosing the Solution.
  • Step 6: Active Execution of the Chosen Solution.
  • Step 7: Evaluation.

What are the 7 steps in problem solving model?

  • Step 1: Define The Problem.
  • Step 2: Analyse The Problem.
  • Step 3: Develop Potential Solutions.
  • Step 4: Evaluate The Options.
  • Step 5: Select The Best Option.
  • Step 6: Implement The Solution.
  • Step 7: Measure The Results.

What is problem-solving and its steps?

Problem solving is the act of defining a problem; determining the cause of the problem; identifying, prioritizing, and selecting alternatives for a solution; and implementing a solution. The problem-solving process.

What are the 5 problem-solving steps?

  • Step 1: Identify the Problem. As obvious as it may sound, the first step in the problem-solving process is to identify the root of the issue.
  • Step 2: Generate potential solutions.
  • Step 3: Choose one solution.
  • Step 4: Implement the solution you’ve chosen.
  • Step 5: Evaluate results.

What are the types of problem-solving?

Many different strategies exist for solving problems. Typical strategies include trial and error, applying algorithms, and using heuristics. To solve a large, complicated problem, it often helps to break the problem into smaller steps that can be accomplished individually, leading to an overall solution.

Why is the last step Step 6 evaluate important?

Why is the last step (step 6-evaluate) important? B. It helps you to think about your decision afterward to see if you would make that same decision again another time.

What is the 6 step decision process?

The DECIDE model is the acronym of 6 particular activities needed in the decision-making process: (1) D = define the problem, (2) E = establish the criteria, (3) C = consider all the alternatives, (4) I = identify the best alternative, (5) D = develop and implement a plan of action, and (6) E = evaluate and monitor the …

What is step 6 of the design process?

6. Improve. Reflect on all of your feedback and decide if or to what extent it should be incorporated. It is often helpful to take solutions back through the Design Process to refine and clarify them.

What is the first step in the Six Step Process?

  • Step 1: Define Desired Outcomes and Actions.
  • Step 2: Endorse the Process.
  • Step 4: Develop Alternatives or Options.
  • Step 5: Evaluate, Select, and Refine Alternative or Option.
  • Step 6: Finalize Documentation and Evaluate the Process.

What are the 4 steps in solving word problems in Grade 6?

  • Step 1: Understand the problem.
  • Step 2: Devise a plan (translate).
  • Step 3: Carry out the plan (solve).
  • Step 4: Look back (check and interpret).

What are the steps of physics?

The five steps of the scientific method include 1) defining the problem 2) making observations, 3) forming a hypothesis, 4) conducting an experiment and 5) drawing conclusions.

What are the 9 steps to problem solving?

  • Take the time to define the problem clearly.
  • Pursue alternate paths on “facts of life” and opportunities.
  • Challenge the definition from all angles.
  • Iteratively question the cause of the problem.
  • Identify multiple possible solutions.
  • Prioritize potential solutions.
  • Make a decision.

What are the 8 problem solving steps?

  • Step 1: Define the Problem. What is the problem?
  • Step 2: Clarify the Problem.
  • Step 3: Define the Goals.
  • Step 4: Identify Root Cause of the Problem.
  • Step 5: Develop Action Plan.
  • Step 6: Execute Action Plan.
  • Step 7: Evaluate the Results.
  • Step 8: Continuously Improve.

What are the 10 steps of problem solving?

  • Define the issue. What is the real problem you’re trying to solve?
  • Define the time frame.
  • Gather information.
  • Develop alternatives.
  • Discuss potential solutions.
  • Change your perspective.
  • Set the issue aside.

What are the 4 types of problem solving?

  • Type 1: Troubleshooting.
  • Type 2: Gap from standard.
  • Type 3: Target condition.
  • Type 4: Open-ended.

How many steps are there in problem solving?

The Six Step Problem Solving Model provides a shared, collaborative, and systematic approach to problem solving. Each step must be completed before moving on to the next step. However, the steps are repeatable. At any point the group can return to an earlier step, and proceed from there.

What are the 7 steps to problem solving PDF?

  • Identify the issues. •
  • Understand everyone’s interests. •
  • List the possible solutions (options) •
  • Evaluate the options. •
  • Select an option or options. •
  • Document the agreement(s). •
  • Agree on contingencies, monitoring, and evaluation. •

What are the 5 Why method in problem-solving?

The 5 Whys Problem Solving technique is a simple process to follow to solve any problem by repeatedly asking the question “Why” (five times is a good rule of thumb), to peel away the layers of symptoms that can lead to the root cause of a problem. This strategy relates to the principle of systematic problem solving.

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Overview of the Problem-Solving Mental Process

Kendra Cherry, MS, is a psychosocial rehabilitation specialist, psychology educator, and author of the "Everything Psychology Book."

what is step 6 of the problem solving model

Rachel Goldman, PhD FTOS, is a licensed psychologist, clinical assistant professor, speaker, wellness expert specializing in eating behaviors, stress management, and health behavior change.

what is step 6 of the problem solving model

  • Identify the Problem
  • Define the Problem
  • Form a Strategy
  • Organize Information
  • Allocate Resources
  • Monitor Progress
  • Evaluate the Results

Frequently Asked Questions

Problem-solving is a mental process that involves discovering, analyzing, and solving problems. The ultimate goal of problem-solving is to overcome obstacles and find a solution that best resolves the issue.

The best strategy for solving a problem depends largely on the unique situation. In some cases, people are better off learning everything they can about the issue and then using factual knowledge to come up with a solution. In other instances, creativity and insight are the best options.

It is not necessary to follow problem-solving steps sequentially, It is common to skip steps or even go back through steps multiple times until the desired solution is reached.

In order to correctly solve a problem, it is often important to follow a series of steps. Researchers sometimes refer to this as the problem-solving cycle. While this cycle is portrayed sequentially, people rarely follow a rigid series of steps to find a solution.

The following steps include developing strategies and organizing knowledge.

1. Identifying the Problem

While it may seem like an obvious step, identifying the problem is not always as simple as it sounds. In some cases, people might mistakenly identify the wrong source of a problem, which will make attempts to solve it inefficient or even useless.

Some strategies that you might use to figure out the source of a problem include :

  • Asking questions about the problem
  • Breaking the problem down into smaller pieces
  • Looking at the problem from different perspectives
  • Conducting research to figure out what relationships exist between different variables

2. Defining the Problem

After the problem has been identified, it is important to fully define the problem so that it can be solved. You can define a problem by operationally defining each aspect of the problem and setting goals for what aspects of the problem you will address

At this point, you should focus on figuring out which aspects of the problems are facts and which are opinions. State the problem clearly and identify the scope of the solution.

3. Forming a Strategy

After the problem has been identified, it is time to start brainstorming potential solutions. This step usually involves generating as many ideas as possible without judging their quality. Once several possibilities have been generated, they can be evaluated and narrowed down.

The next step is to develop a strategy to solve the problem. The approach used will vary depending upon the situation and the individual's unique preferences. Common problem-solving strategies include heuristics and algorithms.

  • Heuristics are mental shortcuts that are often based on solutions that have worked in the past. They can work well if the problem is similar to something you have encountered before and are often the best choice if you need a fast solution.
  • Algorithms are step-by-step strategies that are guaranteed to produce a correct result. While this approach is great for accuracy, it can also consume time and resources.

Heuristics are often best used when time is of the essence, while algorithms are a better choice when a decision needs to be as accurate as possible.

4. Organizing Information

Before coming up with a solution, you need to first organize the available information. What do you know about the problem? What do you not know? The more information that is available the better prepared you will be to come up with an accurate solution.

When approaching a problem, it is important to make sure that you have all the data you need. Making a decision without adequate information can lead to biased or inaccurate results.

5. Allocating Resources

Of course, we don't always have unlimited money, time, and other resources to solve a problem. Before you begin to solve a problem, you need to determine how high priority it is.

If it is an important problem, it is probably worth allocating more resources to solving it. If, however, it is a fairly unimportant problem, then you do not want to spend too much of your available resources on coming up with a solution.

At this stage, it is important to consider all of the factors that might affect the problem at hand. This includes looking at the available resources, deadlines that need to be met, and any possible risks involved in each solution. After careful evaluation, a decision can be made about which solution to pursue.

6. Monitoring Progress

After selecting a problem-solving strategy, it is time to put the plan into action and see if it works. This step might involve trying out different solutions to see which one is the most effective.

It is also important to monitor the situation after implementing a solution to ensure that the problem has been solved and that no new problems have arisen as a result of the proposed solution.

Effective problem-solvers tend to monitor their progress as they work towards a solution. If they are not making good progress toward reaching their goal, they will reevaluate their approach or look for new strategies .

7. Evaluating the Results

After a solution has been reached, it is important to evaluate the results to determine if it is the best possible solution to the problem. This evaluation might be immediate, such as checking the results of a math problem to ensure the answer is correct, or it can be delayed, such as evaluating the success of a therapy program after several months of treatment.

Once a problem has been solved, it is important to take some time to reflect on the process that was used and evaluate the results. This will help you to improve your problem-solving skills and become more efficient at solving future problems.

A Word From Verywell​

It is important to remember that there are many different problem-solving processes with different steps, and this is just one example. Problem-solving in real-world situations requires a great deal of resourcefulness, flexibility, resilience, and continuous interaction with the environment.

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You can become a better problem solving by:

  • Practicing brainstorming and coming up with multiple potential solutions to problems
  • Being open-minded and considering all possible options before making a decision
  • Breaking down problems into smaller, more manageable pieces
  • Asking for help when needed
  • Researching different problem-solving techniques and trying out new ones
  • Learning from mistakes and using them as opportunities to grow

It's important to communicate openly and honestly with your partner about what's going on. Try to see things from their perspective as well as your own. Work together to find a resolution that works for both of you. Be willing to compromise and accept that there may not be a perfect solution.

Take breaks if things are getting too heated, and come back to the problem when you feel calm and collected. Don't try to fix every problem on your own—consider asking a therapist or counselor for help and insight.

If you've tried everything and there doesn't seem to be a way to fix the problem, you may have to learn to accept it. This can be difficult, but try to focus on the positive aspects of your life and remember that every situation is temporary. Don't dwell on what's going wrong—instead, think about what's going right. Find support by talking to friends or family. Seek professional help if you're having trouble coping.

Davidson JE, Sternberg RJ, editors.  The Psychology of Problem Solving .  Cambridge University Press; 2003. doi:10.1017/CBO9780511615771

Sarathy V. Real world problem-solving .  Front Hum Neurosci . 2018;12:261. Published 2018 Jun 26. doi:10.3389/fnhum.2018.00261

By Kendra Cherry, MSEd Kendra Cherry, MS, is a psychosocial rehabilitation specialist, psychology educator, and author of the "Everything Psychology Book."


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The Problem-Solving Process

Looking at the basic problem-solving process to help keep you on the right track.

By the Mind Tools Content Team

Problem-solving is an important part of planning and decision-making. The process has much in common with the decision-making process, and in the case of complex decisions, can form part of the process itself.

We face and solve problems every day, in a variety of guises and of differing complexity. Some, such as the resolution of a serious complaint, require a significant amount of time, thought and investigation. Others, such as a printer running out of paper, are so quickly resolved they barely register as a problem at all.

what is step 6 of the problem solving model

Despite the everyday occurrence of problems, many people lack confidence when it comes to solving them, and as a result may chose to stay with the status quo rather than tackle the issue. Broken down into steps, however, the problem-solving process is very simple. While there are many tools and techniques available to help us solve problems, the outline process remains the same.

The main stages of problem-solving are outlined below, though not all are required for every problem that needs to be solved.

what is step 6 of the problem solving model

1. Define the Problem

Clarify the problem before trying to solve it. A common mistake with problem-solving is to react to what the problem appears to be, rather than what it actually is. Write down a simple statement of the problem, and then underline the key words. Be certain there are no hidden assumptions in the key words you have underlined. One way of doing this is to use a synonym to replace the key words. For example, ‘We need to encourage higher productivity ’ might become ‘We need to promote superior output ’ which has a different meaning.

2. Analyze the Problem

Ask yourself, and others, the following questions.

  • Where is the problem occurring?
  • When is it occurring?
  • Why is it happening?

Be careful not to jump to ‘who is causing the problem?’. When stressed and faced with a problem it is all too easy to assign blame. This, however, can cause negative feeling and does not help to solve the problem. As an example, if an employee is underperforming, the root of the problem might lie in a number of areas, such as lack of training, workplace bullying or management style. To assign immediate blame to the employee would not therefore resolve the underlying issue.

Once the answers to the where, when and why have been determined, the following questions should also be asked:

  • Where can further information be found?
  • Is this information correct, up-to-date and unbiased?
  • What does this information mean in terms of the available options?

3. Generate Potential Solutions

When generating potential solutions it can be a good idea to have a mixture of ‘right brain’ and ‘left brain’ thinkers. In other words, some people who think laterally and some who think logically. This provides a balance in terms of generating the widest possible variety of solutions while also being realistic about what can be achieved. There are many tools and techniques which can help produce solutions, including thinking about the problem from a number of different perspectives, and brainstorming, where a team or individual write as many possibilities as they can think of to encourage lateral thinking and generate a broad range of potential solutions.

4. Select Best Solution

When selecting the best solution, consider:

  • Is this a long-term solution, or a ‘quick fix’?
  • Is the solution achievable in terms of available resources and time?
  • Are there any risks associated with the chosen solution?
  • Could the solution, in itself, lead to other problems?

This stage in particular demonstrates why problem-solving and decision-making are so closely related.

5. Take Action

In order to implement the chosen solution effectively, consider the following:

  • What will the situation look like when the problem is resolved?
  • What needs to be done to implement the solution? Are there systems or processes that need to be adjusted?
  • What will be the success indicators?
  • What are the timescales for the implementation? Does the scale of the problem/implementation require a project plan?
  • Who is responsible?

Once the answers to all the above questions are written down, they can form the basis of an action plan.

6. Monitor and Review

One of the most important factors in successful problem-solving is continual observation and feedback. Use the success indicators in the action plan to monitor progress on a regular basis. Is everything as expected? Is everything on schedule? Keep an eye on priorities and timelines to prevent them from slipping.

If the indicators are not being met, or if timescales are slipping, consider what can be done. Was the plan realistic? If so, are sufficient resources being made available? Are these resources targeting the correct part of the plan? Or does the plan need to be amended? Regular review and discussion of the action plan is important so small adjustments can be made on a regular basis to help keep everything on track.

Once all the indicators have been met and the problem has been resolved, consider what steps can now be taken to prevent this type of problem recurring? It may be that the chosen solution already prevents a recurrence, however if an interim or partial solution has been chosen it is important not to lose momentum.

Problems, by their very nature, will not always fit neatly into a structured problem-solving process. This process, therefore, is designed as a framework which can be adapted to individual needs and nature.

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What is Problem Solving? (Steps, Techniques, Examples)

By Status.net Editorial Team on May 7, 2023 — 5 minutes to read

What Is Problem Solving?

Definition and importance.

Problem solving is the process of finding solutions to obstacles or challenges you encounter in your life or work. It is a crucial skill that allows you to tackle complex situations, adapt to changes, and overcome difficulties with ease. Mastering this ability will contribute to both your personal and professional growth, leading to more successful outcomes and better decision-making.

Problem-Solving Steps

The problem-solving process typically includes the following steps:

  • Identify the issue : Recognize the problem that needs to be solved.
  • Analyze the situation : Examine the issue in depth, gather all relevant information, and consider any limitations or constraints that may be present.
  • Generate potential solutions : Brainstorm a list of possible solutions to the issue, without immediately judging or evaluating them.
  • Evaluate options : Weigh the pros and cons of each potential solution, considering factors such as feasibility, effectiveness, and potential risks.
  • Select the best solution : Choose the option that best addresses the problem and aligns with your objectives.
  • Implement the solution : Put the selected solution into action and monitor the results to ensure it resolves the issue.
  • Review and learn : Reflect on the problem-solving process, identify any improvements or adjustments that can be made, and apply these learnings to future situations.

Defining the Problem

To start tackling a problem, first, identify and understand it. Analyzing the issue thoroughly helps to clarify its scope and nature. Ask questions to gather information and consider the problem from various angles. Some strategies to define the problem include:

  • Brainstorming with others
  • Asking the 5 Ws and 1 H (Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How)
  • Analyzing cause and effect
  • Creating a problem statement

Generating Solutions

Once the problem is clearly understood, brainstorm possible solutions. Think creatively and keep an open mind, as well as considering lessons from past experiences. Consider:

  • Creating a list of potential ideas to solve the problem
  • Grouping and categorizing similar solutions
  • Prioritizing potential solutions based on feasibility, cost, and resources required
  • Involving others to share diverse opinions and inputs

Evaluating and Selecting Solutions

Evaluate each potential solution, weighing its pros and cons. To facilitate decision-making, use techniques such as:

  • SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats)
  • Decision-making matrices
  • Pros and cons lists
  • Risk assessments

After evaluating, choose the most suitable solution based on effectiveness, cost, and time constraints.

Implementing and Monitoring the Solution

Implement the chosen solution and monitor its progress. Key actions include:

  • Communicating the solution to relevant parties
  • Setting timelines and milestones
  • Assigning tasks and responsibilities
  • Monitoring the solution and making adjustments as necessary
  • Evaluating the effectiveness of the solution after implementation

Utilize feedback from stakeholders and consider potential improvements. Remember that problem-solving is an ongoing process that can always be refined and enhanced.

Problem-Solving Techniques

During each step, you may find it helpful to utilize various problem-solving techniques, such as:

  • Brainstorming : A free-flowing, open-minded session where ideas are generated and listed without judgment, to encourage creativity and innovative thinking.
  • Root cause analysis : A method that explores the underlying causes of a problem to find the most effective solution rather than addressing superficial symptoms.
  • SWOT analysis : A tool used to evaluate the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats related to a problem or decision, providing a comprehensive view of the situation.
  • Mind mapping : A visual technique that uses diagrams to organize and connect ideas, helping to identify patterns, relationships, and possible solutions.


When facing a problem, start by conducting a brainstorming session. Gather your team and encourage an open discussion where everyone contributes ideas, no matter how outlandish they may seem. This helps you:

  • Generate a diverse range of solutions
  • Encourage all team members to participate
  • Foster creative thinking

When brainstorming, remember to:

  • Reserve judgment until the session is over
  • Encourage wild ideas
  • Combine and improve upon ideas

Root Cause Analysis

For effective problem-solving, identifying the root cause of the issue at hand is crucial. Try these methods:

  • 5 Whys : Ask “why” five times to get to the underlying cause.
  • Fishbone Diagram : Create a diagram representing the problem and break it down into categories of potential causes.
  • Pareto Analysis : Determine the few most significant causes underlying the majority of problems.

SWOT Analysis

SWOT analysis helps you examine the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats related to your problem. To perform a SWOT analysis:

  • List your problem’s strengths, such as relevant resources or strong partnerships.
  • Identify its weaknesses, such as knowledge gaps or limited resources.
  • Explore opportunities, like trends or new technologies, that could help solve the problem.
  • Recognize potential threats, like competition or regulatory barriers.

SWOT analysis aids in understanding the internal and external factors affecting the problem, which can help guide your solution.

Mind Mapping

A mind map is a visual representation of your problem and potential solutions. It enables you to organize information in a structured and intuitive manner. To create a mind map:

  • Write the problem in the center of a blank page.
  • Draw branches from the central problem to related sub-problems or contributing factors.
  • Add more branches to represent potential solutions or further ideas.

Mind mapping allows you to visually see connections between ideas and promotes creativity in problem-solving.

Examples of Problem Solving in Various Contexts

In the business world, you might encounter problems related to finances, operations, or communication. Applying problem-solving skills in these situations could look like:

  • Identifying areas of improvement in your company’s financial performance and implementing cost-saving measures
  • Resolving internal conflicts among team members by listening and understanding different perspectives, then proposing and negotiating solutions
  • Streamlining a process for better productivity by removing redundancies, automating tasks, or re-allocating resources

In educational contexts, problem-solving can be seen in various aspects, such as:

  • Addressing a gap in students’ understanding by employing diverse teaching methods to cater to different learning styles
  • Developing a strategy for successful time management to balance academic responsibilities and extracurricular activities
  • Seeking resources and support to provide equal opportunities for learners with special needs or disabilities

Everyday life is full of challenges that require problem-solving skills. Some examples include:

  • Overcoming a personal obstacle, such as improving your fitness level, by establishing achievable goals, measuring progress, and adjusting your approach accordingly
  • Navigating a new environment or city by researching your surroundings, asking for directions, or using technology like GPS to guide you
  • Dealing with a sudden change, like a change in your work schedule, by assessing the situation, identifying potential impacts, and adapting your plans to accommodate the change.
  • How to Resolve Employee Conflict at Work [Steps, Tips, Examples]
  • How to Write Inspiring Core Values? 5 Steps with Examples
  • 30 Employee Feedback Examples (Positive & Negative)

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10 Modeling Problem Solving

We’ve discussed in previous chapters how part of a tutor’s task is to model good learning habits. When tutors are organized, use good time management, and leverage resources, we demonstrate the skills that students can use to be successful learners.

Problem-solving is an additional skill that tutors model for students. An organized and- intentional problem-solving approach helps us to efficiently work through challenges, and many of us effectively problem solve without much thought given to our approach. 1 However, it makes sense to take a step back and do our best to model problem-solving best-practices. Remember that repeated demonstration of a tutor’s problem-solving strategies can help students learn from our example.

We know the tutor’s role is not to solve a student’s problem for them. How do we model good problem-solving, without actually solving the problem ourselves? It’s tricky, but not impossible. We can empower students to work their way through any problem by asking good questions and walking them through the steps of the process.

The Rational Problem-Solving Process

Problem-solving is something many of us have taught ourselves through practice. However, there are many scholars and professionals who have examined and broken down effective problem-solving strategies into a series of logical steps. 2 We can check our own process by reflecting on what has been written about best-practices in problem-solving, and maybe make changes to be more consistent and effective. This can better prepare tutors to guide a student through the process when we apply it in a tutoring session.

Step 1: Define the Problem

It may seem obvious to state that the first step in solving a problem is to notice that we have a problem. Unless we take time to understand precisely what is wrong, however, we may find ourselves creating a solution that doesn’t actually fix anything. It’s very common to dive straight into devising a solution only to find that we’ve solved the wrong problem. Alternatively, we might develop a solution only to discover that the real problem is bigger than we thought.

A good practice for starting out is to try to define the problem in words. By writing or stating a problem definition, we’re challenged to identify the root cause, and this information can guide us in developing effective solutions.

In a tutoring session, sometimes the problem can take a variety of forms. The problem could be:

  • the literal problem given in a student’s homework assignment (a word problem in math, or a case study in biology, for example.)
  • a lack of clarity in assignment instructions.
  • the student not having a strategy for planning a project or starting a paper.
  • the student lacking confidence to tackle their homework or study independently

Keep in mind that the form the “problem” takes will change based on the student’s needs and goals. If the problem is that the student doesn’t understand something, the first step is to identify precisely what they don’t understand. If the problem is that something is missing, then understanding exactly what necessary parts are missing is the first step.

In a tutoring session this may mean asking the student to start the process, or begin describing the concept from the beginning, until they reach the point where things become unclear. Together, you can determine where the gaps are, and begin to develop a problem definition.

Step 2: Pull from Existing Knowledge

After we’ve identified and defined the problem, the next step is to ask ourselves what we already know about the situation. Take an inventory. What information do we already have? What can we learn from the context? What resources have we been given?

When working with a student, pulling from existing knowledge might involve reviewing the concepts already covered and the student’s existing knowledge of the course material. It may also mean reaching into material and experiences outside of the student’s course.

Some helpful questions to guide this step include:

  • What does the student know about topics related to the course material?
  • What experience might the student have from prior courses?
  • In what context might the student have heard these ideas discussed in their everyday lives or in popular culture?

When we encourage students to step back and really take account of everything they already know about the problem and its context, they can be surprised at how much knowledge they actually bring.

Step 3: Refer to support materials

Once we’ve pulled from the knowledge we already have, we can expand our search for supporting knowledge to outside resources. Are there reference materials we can access? Are there experts we can consult?

The first thing we can encourage students to do is to refer to their course texts, notes, study guides, and materials provided by the class instructor. These are often the best places to start because they’re most likely to provide relevant information. Once these resources have been referenced, we can also encourage students to look for information and guidance from other academic resources.

Students often forget that they can reference what others have written about their problem. Outside textbooks and supporting texts may offer similar ideas presented in a different way, and this could help the student approach the problem with new understanding or perspective. Online research and reference materials are good places to look for clarification of rules, theories, laws, formulas, processes, and examples. While these sources may not be quite as specific to a student’s class assignment, they can sometimes provide confirmation or clarity in areas where a student might need it.

Students should be made to feel free to leverage other academic supports as well. They are already leveraging one aspect of this support when they come to see a tutor. Other supports may include making use of the library or computer center, visiting their instructor’s office hours to ask questions, or even reaching out to other classmates. It’s always helpful for tutors to remind the student that these other supports are available and to encourage them to use these resources.

If a student is unsure or intimidated by contacting an instructor or a classmate, or is uncomfortable learning how to use other support resources, encouragement from a tutor can often be the nudge a student needs. Remind them of these supports and offer to help them access them where appropriate.

Step 4: Brainstorm Solutions

There’s usually more than one way to solve a problem, and it’s helpful to brainstorm multiple solutions to find the one that works best.

It’s important that tutors allow students to take an active role in developing their own solutions to the problem. This is where our Socratic questioning skills become really crucial and can help the students to apply what they know to the problem they’ve identified. The tutor’s role here is to facilitate the solution-generating process, contributing where appropriate, and helping to guide the student in a productive direction.

It is possible that the student will suggest a solution that we know will not solve the problem. Depending on the nature and scale of the problem, it may not always be appropriate for us to tell the student that we think it won’t work. Guiding the student through the problem-solving process is about helping students to engage with the process itself. That way, they can feel confident applying it on their own, even when a helpful tutor isn’t around to give hints. It’s up to each tutor in each situation to decide when it is appropriate to expedite the process by providing insights into solutions, and when it is best to allow students to test their solutions to determine their effectiveness.

Step 5: Test a Solution

Choose a solution and try it out. Maybe it will work! Maybe it doesn’t. Having a variety of solutions to try is why we brainstorm more than one. Though trial and error can sometimes feel frustrating, it is in the testing of our solutions that we often learn the most. We’re able to better understand the parts that work, the parts that don’t, and hopefully learn the reasons why. This can result in solutions that are more efficient and better suited to our needs.

Solution-testing is an opportunity for students to learn from mistakes in a safe, low-risk way. Often mistakes in class result in deducted points, a bad grade, or maybe an embarrassing moment in from t of classmates. As a guide through the problem-solving process, tutors can help students to see mistakes as necessary and helpful steps on the way to a solution that works, rather than as failures. It’s important that the tutor help the student see mistakes as progress, especially when a student becomes discouraged. This helps the student maintain a growth mindset while identifying ways to improve.

Step 6: Revising the Solution

When a solution doesn’t work, it may not mean the whole idea was bad. Maybe it needs some revisions and refining, but doesn’t always need to be discarded. We can use what we learned from solution-testing to make effective revisions.

This may mean we guide a student back to previous steps in the problem-solving process. Students may once more need to pull from existing knowledge, revisit those support materials, or look at some of the alternative solutions that the student developed.

Step 7: Revisit the Problem

We’ve got a solution that works! Did it fix our problem? If yes, then great!

Sometimes, however, a solution may “work,” without fixing our problem.

When this happens, we need to revisit the problem definition. Do we really understand it? Is there a detail we didn’t consider when developing our solutions? Did we misinterpret what the problem actually is when we crafted our problem definition?

At this point, perhaps we need to revise the solution once more. Sometimes in our process of researching and brainstorming, we can get off course, and taking time to refer to the initial problem can help us recalibrate our efforts and get us back on track.

Other times we may need re-define our problem. Perhaps after developing and testing several solutions, it becomes clear that the real problem is different than what we initially thought it was. Or perhaps our solutions address parts of the problem, but don’t get to the deeper root of the issue.

When a student has worked through the problem-solving process and still feels stuck, tutors can guide them to revisit the problem and clarify the initial goal. Returning to previous steps of the process as needed is normal and often necessary. Ensuring students that they’re still correctly applying the process, even when they need to jump back and forth between these steps, can help keep them from getting discouraged.

Quickwrite Exercise

Think back to a time you solved a problem in the past. It could be an obstacle you encountered in an academic setting (completing an assignment, researching for a paper, troubleshooting a technical problem) or in your personal life.

Take a moment to reflect:

  • Did you use pieces of the rational problem solving process, without knowing?
  • If you could go back and approach the problem again, how would you implement this problem solving approach? What would it look like? How would it have been different?

Facilitating the Problem-Solving Process

The rational problem-solving process is an excellent tool to help tutors guide students through problems big and small. This organized way of approaching the task can help us make sure we’re heading in a productive direction, from solving a math problem to developing a strategy to finish a research paper. How do we ensure we’re empowering students to use this process on their own?

It can be helpful to both tutors and students to use the process as a checklist during a problem-solving session. We can name each step as we move through, and make it clear to the student the purpose of each activity. This doesn’t mean we turn a session of math tutoring into a lesson on the problem-solving process, but explicitly stating the names of each step can make it clear to the student the purpose of each activity, and help them to become familiar with the process. If we “narrate” our process as we go, students can experience a guided problem-solving process during their tutoring session and be encouraged to apply it independently.

Once we’ve guided a student through the process, we can then provide opportunities for the student to take charge. We can prompt the student to move from step to step, supporting them in their problem-solving efforts along the way. This guided practice can help students to become well-versed in the process itself, and to feel more comfortable applying it independently. 3

Something to Try

In your next session, when a student comes to you with a problem, use your Socratic questioning skills to walk the student through the problem solving process. (This may be something you’re already implementing naturally!)

Be deliberate about each step. Assist the student in defining the problem, guide the student to collect their existing knowledge, help the student pull from reference materials available, etc.

How does it work for you?

Practicing the Problem-Solving Process

Don’t forget, that while this process is an excellent tool for helping students to solve problems during a session, it can also help tutors to problem-solve during a session!

Perhaps you encounter a student faced with a problem you yourself don’t know how to solve. No worries! The problem-solving process works just the same.

We can apply it to challenges with assignments, and we can also apply it to other issues we encounter during a tutoring session. Every student is unique, and it may take some problem-solving to learn how to best work with each student. Identifying the “problem,” pulling from our knowledge, consulting our supports, brainstorming, and testing solutions are all ways tutors can determine how best to assist students.

  • Dane, E., Baer, M., Pratt, M. G., and Oldham, G. R. (2011). Rational versus intuitive problem solving: How thinking “off the beaten path” can stimulate creativity. Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts.  5 (1), 3–12.  https://doi.org/10.1037/a0017698.
  • Uzonwanne F.C. (2016). Rational Model of Decision Making. In: Farazmand A. (eds) Global Encyclopedia of Public Administration, Public Policy, and Governance. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-31816-5_2474-1.
  • Klegeris, A., Bahniwal, M., and Hurren, H. (2017). Improvement in Generic Problem-Solving Abilities of Students by Use of Tutor-less Problem-Based Learning in a Large Classroom Setting. Life Sciences Education. 12(1), 1-116. https://doi.org/10.1187/cbe.12-06-0081.

Additional Resources:

McNamera, C. (2020). Problem Solving and Decision Making (Solving Problems and Making Decisions). Free Management Library. Authenticity Consulting LLC. https://managementhelp.org/personalproductivity/problem-solving.htm . Accessed 26 Apr. 2021.

Nezu C., Palmatier, A., and Nezu, A. (2004). Social Problem-Solving Training for Caregivers. In Chang, D’Zurilla, & Sanna (Eds.) Social Problem Solving: Theory, Research, and Training. (223-238). American Psychological Association. https://doi.org/10.1037/10805-013 .

Nezu, A., Nezu, C., and D’Zurilla, T. (2007). Solving Life’s problems: a 5 Step Guide to Enhanced Well-Being. Springer Publishing Company LLC. https://www.springerpub.com/solving-life-s-problems-9780826114891.html .

Scott, G. M., Lonergan, D. C., and Mumford, M.D. (2010).  Conceptual Combination: Alternative Knowledge Structures, Alternative Heuristics. Creativity Research Journal. 17(1), 79-98. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1207/s15326934crj1701_7 .

Tutor Handbook Copyright © 2021 by Penny Feltner and gapinski is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.

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7 Steps to Problem-Solving

7 Steps to Problem-Solving is a systematic process that involves analyzing a situation, generating possible solutions, and implementing the best course of action. While different problem-solving models exist, a common approach often involves the following seven steps:

Define the Problem:

  • Clearly articulate and understand the nature of the problem. Define the issue, its scope, and its impact on individuals or the organization.

Gather Information:

  • Collect relevant data and information related to the problem. This may involve research, observation, interviews, or any other method to gain a comprehensive understanding.

Generate Possible Solutions:

  • Brainstorm and generate a variety of potential solutions to the problem. Encourage creativity and consider different perspectives during this phase.

Evaluate Options:

  • Assess the strengths and weaknesses of each potential solution. Consider the feasibility, potential risks, and the likely outcomes associated with each option.

Make a Decision:

  • Based on the evaluation, choose the most suitable solution. This decision should align with the goals and values of the individual or organization facing the problem.

Implement the Solution:

  • Put the chosen solution into action. Develop an implementation plan, allocate resources, and carry out the necessary steps to address the problem effectively.

Evaluate the Results:

  • Assess the outcomes of the implemented solution. Did it solve the problem as intended? What can be learned from the process? Use this information to refine future problem-solving efforts.

It’s important to note that these steps are not always linear and may involve iteration. Problem-solving is often an ongoing process, and feedback from the implementation and evaluation stages may lead to adjustments in the chosen solution or the identification of new issues that need to be addressed.

Problem-Solving Example in Education

  • Certainly: Let’s consider a problem-solving example in the context of education.
  • Problem: Declining Student Engagement in Mathematics Classes


A high school has noticed a decline in student engagement and performance in mathematics classes over the past few years. Students seem disinterested, and there is a noticeable decrease in test scores. The traditional teaching methods are not effectively capturing students’ attention, and there’s a need for innovative solutions to rekindle interest in mathematics.

Steps in Problem-Solving

Identify the problem:.

  • Clearly define the issue: declining student engagement and performance in mathematics classes.
  • Gather data on student performance, attendance, and feedback from teachers and students.

Root Cause Analysis

  • Conduct surveys, interviews, and classroom observations to identify the root causes of disengagement.
  • Identify potential factors such as teaching methods, curriculum relevance, or lack of real-world applications.

Brainstorm Solutions

  • Organize a team of educators, administrators, and even students to brainstorm creative solutions.
  • Consider integrating technology, real-world applications, project-based learning, or other interactive teaching methods.

Evaluate and Prioritize Solutions

  • Evaluate each solution based on feasibility, cost, and potential impact.
  • Prioritize solutions that are likely to address the root causes and have a positive impact on student engagement.

Implement the Chosen Solution

  • Develop an action plan for implementing the chosen solution.
  • Provide training and resources for teachers to adapt to new teaching methods or technologies.

Monitor and Evaluate

  • Continuously monitor the implementation of the solution.
  • Collect feedback from teachers and students to assess the effectiveness of the changes.

Adjust as Needed

  • Be willing to make adjustments based on ongoing feedback and data analysis.
  • Fine-tune the solution to address any unforeseen challenges or issues.

Example Solution

  • Introduce a project-based learning approach in mathematics classes, where students work on real-world problems that require mathematical skills.
  • Incorporate technology, such as educational apps or interactive simulations, to make learning more engaging.
  • Provide professional development for teachers to enhance their skills in implementing these new teaching methods.

Expected Outcomes:

  • Increased student engagement and interest in mathematics.
  • Improvement in test scores and overall academic performance.
  • Positive feedback from both teachers and students.

Final Words

This problem-solving approach in education involves a systematic process of identifying, analyzing, and addressing issues to enhance the learning experience for students.

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  • May 30, 2022

The Six Step Problem Solving Model

In the workplace, there are always problems that will challenge you. despite your individual performance or the level of professionalism, problems arise many times in an unpredictable way. nowadays, the evolution of technology and its expansion in our working environments comes with many situations that tend to create problem-kind in any direction..

Do you like it or not, you will find yourself when you need to address a solution, quickly and feasibly!

To be a problem-solving person is a skill that many employers require for their staff to have. Also, todays, this skill is essential to staff recruiting for most of the companies and businesses. Therefor, if you want to shine or to develop your skills of the future, here is a model that will help you to get there.

This Six-Step method provides focused strategies for the problem solving individual or group. The steps are repeatable. You may return at any point to an earlier step, to reexamine or evaluate again your solution and proceed from there.

Step One: Define the problem

Step one is when the problem is diagnosed. You should pass through analysis of the context and background in which the problem arises. Check for its symptoms, what does it affect and how urgent is it to solve.

There some techniques that you can use to gather information and clarify symptoms that clearly state the existence of a problem. The may you can find out the more certain are you in defining the problem. Those techniques are:

what is step 6 of the problem solving model

Step Two: Determine the Root Cause(s)

In this step you need to define the source of the problem. After finding what caused it, you must undergo through questions like: Is there any other thing laying behind? Is this something new or known to you? What is important when you look for solutions is that you need to focus in on solving directly the cause and not only the symptoms of the problem. In this step you need to be thoughtful in evaluation of your data and maintain a careful approach of the first step diagnosis. In addition, you may use these tools to help organize all the data and create a clear idea of the problem-roots.

  • Fishbone Diagram
  • Pareto analysis
  • Affinity diagrams

These techniques help you to structure the information and direct your focus to the roots of the problem.

Step Three: Develop Multiple Solutions

Try to develop a multiapproach solution-strategy. One of the elements that distinguish a problem-solving person is the thinking outside the box. At this point is recommended to not stop at your first solution, but go beyond it for more ways to solve the problem. Think about external implications and unusual casualties that might happen for the problem to arise. You can ask your colleagues or open discussions around the problem. Keep an open mind to gather as much as you can according to the nature of the problem. Then, analyze carefully your findings and problem-data. Lay out as many solutions to the problem.

Step Four: Select a Solution

In the fourth step, you must evaluate your multiple solutions and select one to narrow down. This step applies two questions.

  • Which solution is most feasible?
  • Which solution is favored by those who will implement and use it?

These two questions will direct you to establish a clear and certain idea of the impact that your solution should have within the working environment and all its effectiveness. Ask these secondary questions that decide if a solution:

  • Can be implemented within an acceptable timeframe?
  • Is cost effective, reliable and realistic?
  • Will make resource usage more effective?
  • Can adapt to conditions as they evolve and change?
  • Its risks are manageable?
  • Will benefit the organization?

Step Five: Implement the Solution

This step is when the solution comes to life. An initial project planning is necessary to implement successfully your solution. Set up the key factors that assure the trajectory of the solution in real practice.  

  • Place a Project Manager (or leader) if necessary
  • Who else needs to be involved to implement the solution
  • Implementation date
  • The key milestone
  • What action need to be taken before starting the solution and during
  • What other needs you might have to think about before and during the implementation

The use of charts, timeline or log frame are very helpful between step 5 and 6. These can organize and coordinate the whole process and implementation group or can disorganize it totally.

Step Six: Evaluate the Outcome

At this step you need to monitor and ensure all the recommendations are followed. Monitoring is highly recommended and involves some key points:

  • Milestones are met
  • Costs are contained
  • Necessary work is completed

Step six is very important and should not be missed out. It tells you if your solution has achieved the results wanted or has gone off course. It also ensures you whether the implementation does not introduce to new arising problems. Keep always in mind that we learn from mistakes.

This Six-Step model helps you deal with any problem at your working space as well as in other areas of your life. Do not forget that we, always, learn from our mistakes. Is significant to have this mindset as a personal attitude when it comes to dealing with difficult issues and also keep it as a tool that helps you to continuously develop your professionalism skills. So, important to personalize these six key-skills in the near future. This means that you must learn, train yourself and do practice in order to achieve the best of the skills.

Skills to develop:

  • Analytical Thinking
  • Creative Thinking
  • Communication
  • Decision-making

Keep these as part of your main goal. Once you have made few early efforts to achieve these, then they will develop naturally during your entire professional growth.

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  10. PDF The 6 Step Problem Solving Process

    STOP REVIEW THINK ACT This method is a systematic approach to separating out the things that are irrelevant and focusing on those relevant issues that can solve the problem. Step 2 : ANALYSE THE PROBLEM Now that the problem is defined, analyse it to see what is the real bottom-line cause. The key here is TO

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    Problem-solving is an important part of planning and decision-making. The process has much in common with the decision-making process, and in the case of complex decisions, can form part of the process itself. We face and solve problems every day, in a variety of guises and of differing complexity.

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    Also, todays, this skill is essential to staff recruiting for most of the companies and businesses. Therefor, if you want to shine or to develop your skills of the future, here is a model that will help you to get there. This Six-Step method provides focused strategies for the problem solving individual or group. The steps are repeatable.

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