Critical Thinking & Problem Solving

HOUSEKEEPING

  • 20% Project 4th and 5th posting due was last Thursday.
  • STUDY MATE 1st reflection due was last Thursday.

PART ONE: Group problem solving activity- Marshmallow Challenge

Our next topic is critical thinking and problem solving so we’re going to do a group activity related to both.

We need 4 people in the table. Your team’s challenge is to build the tallest freestanding structure with spaghetti and a marshmallow. You will have ingredients of 20 spaghetti strips, 1 yard of string, marshmallow, 1 yard of masking tape.
Here is a direction:

  1. Build the Tallest Freestanding Structure: The winning team is the one that has the tallest structure measured from the table top surface to the top of the marshmallow. That means the structure cannot be suspended from a higher structure, like a chair, ceiling or chandelier.
  2. The Entire Marshmallow Must be on Top: The entire marshmallow needs to be on the top of the structure. Cutting or eating part of the marshmallow disqualifies the team.
  3. Use as Much or as Little of the Kit: The team can use as many or as few of the 20 spaghetti sticks, as much or as little of the string or tape. The team cannot use the paper bag as part of their structure.
  4. Break up the Spaghetti, String or Tape: Teams are free to break the spaghetti, cut up the tape and string to create new structures.
  5. The Challenge Lasts 18 minutes: Teams cannot hold on to the structure when the time runs out. Those touching or supporting the structure at the end of the exercise will be disqualified.
  6. Do you understand the rules?  Ok, this will be fun.

PART TWO: Problem solving group discussion

Within your group – respond to one of the following questions:

  • There are 2 types of problems: open-ended and close-ended. Which was the balancing activity? Which was the marshmallow challenge?
  • How is the balance activity an inquiry activity?
  • Could the balance activity be considered problem-based learning?
  • When have you experienced the problem-based learning approach in your classes? (What is problem-based learning?)
  • How is this connected to critical thinking? For that matter, what IS critical thinking?

Here’s the NETS for problem solving (and other related areas):

Critical Thinking, Problem Solving, and Decision Making: Students use critical thinking skills to plan and conduct research, manage projects, solve problems, and make informed decisions using appropriate digital tools and resources. Students:

a. Identify and define authentic problems and significant questions for investigation.
b. Plan and manage activities to develop a solution or complete a project.
c. Collect and analyze data to identify solutions and/or make informed decisions.
d. Use multiple processes and diverse perspectives to explore alternative solutions.

Let’s watch this video and how researchers define critical thinking.

PART THREE: Problem-based learning (PBL) vs. Project-based learning (PBL)

I believe most of us won’t like to learn something that is not applicable in our daily life, right?  I remember I always asked myself the same question when I was learning advanced mathematics in high school.  For example, calculating the probability.  Do I need to know what the probability of taking a green ball out of the bag while there are 2 green balls mixed with 3 red balls and 2 yellow balls?  Therefore, we try to make everything more real and applicable.  That is the problem-based learning.  We try to solve the real-world/ authentic problems.  You see a lot of problem-based learning in architecture education, business education and medical education.

A lot of problem-based learning is strongly connected with project-based learning.  Project-based learning does not need to tackle with a real-world problem.  At the same time, students are usually more involved or have much more control in the project.

Let’s watch this video about problem-based learning and project-based learning. 

FOR THURSDAY:

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