Exploring the Universality of Problem Solving
Paper

Presenter(s): Virginia Burney, Kristie Speirs Neumeister

What do engineers, historians, and entrepreneurs have in common? All rely on a problem solving process to make advances in their fields. Because each field has its own “spin” on problem solving and presents a slightly different model for problem solving, it can appear that problem solving is discipline specific. This perception can deter students from even exploring different disciplines as they may think “what do I know about [insert field]?”

The goal of this session is to demystify problem solving by showing that across all the “different” problem solving models, core elements can be found that apply to solving problems in all disciplines or situations. In this session the presenters will share a universal, practical model of problem solving built on these core elements. Presenters will share examples of the model used with gifted students in a variety of disciplines from engineering to language arts to history with the goal of conveying the versatility of the model. When gifted students understand that all problems require the same core process to solve, they will feel more confident in their ability to tackle them successfully. Presenters will share a graphical handout with explanations of each step.