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problem solving

there is never an easy way to solve problems so they should be based on the student and situation its not always textbook

This is good advice for students to learn. Textbooks are primarily for sharing content. Common sense and experience is what comes into play when problem solving and students need to realize that so they expand the skills needed to be critical thinkers and problem solvers.

Gary Meers, Ed.D.

I couldn't agree more. Part of our courses involve troubleshooting and diagnosis. While the textbook may give some helpful steps to take, it truly lies in the thought processes of students to draw the appropriate conclusions.

I agree. Textbooks can be a good reference, but it is not a replacement for common sense and experience. An example would be if there was a new, entry level technician at a dealership. all he has is "book knowledge". when he is compared to a seasoned technician, the seasoned tech knows the book way of doing things, and has figured out how to do a job faster and better.

It is interesting to me that often the dealership will turn to the seasoned tech for an answer after they have exhausted all other resources. The seasoned tech is able to tell them what the problem is and how to solve it because that individual has seen the same situation before and is able to analyze, problem solve and complete the work in a timely manner. Something to be said for experience. This is why the new graduates need to listen and learn from the seasoned techs. This exchange of information and expertise can be valuable to and for everyone.

Gary Meers, Ed.D.

if broken down the problem can be seen and solved and is not as overwhelming as it looks!!!!

A lot of the challenges I face with my students today is that they do not want to take the time to break the problem down into chunks and look deeply into each chunk. By doing so as you know they will be able to solve that part of the problem, then the next, and the next and before they know it they will have solved the big problem, which at first they thought there was not hope of solving.

Gary Meers, Ed.D.

yes, I guess this gives me a new meaning to the story about experience is learning the lesson before reading the book!

Are we not suppose to study and think so that we do not have to learn the lessons from the University of Hard Knocks?

I wish I could say that I did not go to that university but alas, I can not!

But learn, I have! Only if it is how much I do not know!


Well said because I think there are many of us that can claim graduation from this University. At times it seemed that I would never graduate from this University because of my lack of understanding exactly how what some of the knocks were designed to teach me.

Gary Meers, Ed.D.

Common sense and experience are to key items to problem solving unfortunately these are not something you can teach, common sense is something some people posses and others do not. Experience takes for some people months others years.

Long before I ever started as an instructor, I was that "seasoned tech" at a GM dealership. The problem we had was that eventually I was the only one. I found myself as the senior guy in the shop, after 12 years, and surrounded by green technicians. The service advisors, manager and other techs were always coming to me to solve their problems, and it was overwhelming. It finally occurred to me, and the manager agreed, that I would take one of the better young techs and act as his mentor. He had to collaborate with me on every job he did, and in doing so I walked him through my thought process for solving the problem. I knew nothing of teaching at the time, but by the end of the year, I could take a vacation, and the shop ran smoothly. The next year, we both took on a lesser experienced tech and acted as mentor.

I mention this to my students because after years of practical experience, problem solving is skill that seasoned techs master, and we just don't have the time while they're in school to master problem solving. I recommend each student befriend a good seasoned tech at his first job and learn from his experience. Experience can't be taught, and we can only start them on the problem solving methods.

I teach surgical technology. Although our text the student a wealth of information critical thinking has to be mastered once the student is in the OR environment. Every patient is not a textbook situation and the student has to solve the problem of care for that patient at that moment. Critical thinking skills and of course common sense has to kick in. As they become seniors in the program of study I am constantly saying that they must pull in all the other things they have been taught ( A&P, Med term, Pharm) to solve the problem at hand (care for this patient). Maybe it is because I am older or the fact that this generation is stuck on instant gratification but I feel that common sense and critical thinking are not encouraged today. 


As an instructor in manufacturing technologies I consider problem solving to be a key issue for my students.  We primarily teach problem solving through our math classes but I am finding it to be more and more difficult as we have students who are used to doing a web search to find the ansers to their problems rather than ever really considering the problems themselves.

I try to to teach intentionaly using both deductive and inductive reasoning paths to try and solve math problems. Then I bring in some shop based problems and ask them to use those same techniques to understand the nature of the shop problem. Some of them get very involved in the problem solving process and some of them just want the answer.

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