research skills resources
The four steps of Problem Solving
Identify the problem This step may sound obvious, but sometimes identifying the problem can be more difficult than it appears. Once the problem is clearly identified, this often goes more than halfway to solving it. Identifying the problem means clearly working out what one's goal is, and what is currently preventing one from achieving this outcome. Generate solutions The key at this stage of the process is not to be overly critical or evaluative of the solutions generated, but to simply think of as many different ways of solving or addressing the problem as possible. This is like a 'brainstorm'. You get more creative solutions if you feel free to table anything. Evaluate solutions and choose the best one to act on Having generated a list of possible approaches to dealing with the problem, it is now necessary to evaluate each of the options and decide which is the preferred approach, taking into consideration everything that might be relevant to the decision. One's knowledge is rarely perfect, so this is a matter of a 'best guess' in most cases. Evaluate the outcome Having tried a solution, it is important to evaluate the success of the solution. If it hasn't worked, return to step 2, and revisit the possible solutions. Continue this process until the problem is resolved. EXAMPLE: My foot hurts
Identify the problem It hurts where my shoe is ripped: the problem is the rip in my shoe

Evaluate the solution
It feels better but it hurts when I walk because I now have blister
It feels better but it hurts when I walk because I now have blister
Generate solutions (2)

Evaluate Solution (2)

Evaluate the solution (2)
It doesn't hurt: problem solved
It doesn't hurt: problem solved