Helping Students Solve Problems


Helping students solve problems

Importance of Theme “Helping students solve problems”

The theme “helping students solve problems” is important as it encourages students’ educational development and provides students with problem-solving skills which are highly valuable in employment. As a result of the ability to solve problems students are more confident and more satisfied with their university experience.


Dr Phil Race, Addressing Student Satisfaction – adopted from material published in Making Teaching Work by Phil Race and Ruth Pickford, London: Sage, 2007).

How to help students solve problems ?

  • Build short group problem-solving exercises into students’ everyday experience. Students can learn a lot from each other about how to go about solving problems, and their confidence increases particularly when the problem-solving is a learning experience for them rather than in an assessment-related context.
  • Even in whole-class sections, intersperse your curriculum delivery with short unfamiliar problem-solving tasks for students to do in buzz-groups, followed by quick debriefing so that students who were not successful in solving the problems don’t have long to wait before finding out what they could have done to solve them.
  • Now and then, set an informal (non-mandatory) homework exercise consisting of a few unfamiliar problems for students to have a go at solving, perhaps with a small prize for whoever gets the best solutions to you by a given date. Then debrief the exercise, for example with a prepared handout sheet illustrating solutions to all the problems, while at the same time congratulating those students who found particularly interesting solutions of their own.

The theme is also significant in relation to the National Student Survey and the Higher Education Academy Fellowship.

National Student Survey

The theme has been taken from the National Student Survey question “as a result of the course, I feel confident in tackling unfamiliar problems” under the category Personal Development.

In the recent 2014 NSS results 83% of students at Swansea University agreed that “as a result of the course, I feel confident in tackling unfamiliar problems”.

Higher Education Academy

The theme is also important in regards to the United Kingdom Professional Standards Framework (UKPSF) as “helping students solve problems” contributes to Professional Values V1, respect individual learners and diverse learning communities, and Areas of Activity A1, design and plan learning activities and/or programmes of study, and A4, develop effective learning environments and approaches to student support and guidance.

For more information on the UKPSF follow the link https://www.heacademy.ac.uk/professional-recognition/uk-professional-standards-framework-ukpsf

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