Problem Solving: Much More Than Just Design
Few concepts which fall within the scope of technology education have received as much attention as “problem solving. ”The Technology Teacher alone contained seven articles about problem solving between 1985 and 1989(Sellwood,1989;Thode,1989;Barnes,1989;Ritz,Deal,Hadley,Jacobs,Kildruff &Skena, 1987, 1986a;Baker & Dugger,1986;Forbes,1985).A thorough review of each of these articles will help any technology teacher teach technology.Many additional articles discuss problem solving,although they may not focus specifically on it.This does not suggest that problem solving is a new concept;it has been listed as a goal of our profession since its inception.However,the recent interest in problem solving does raise some questions:How should problem solving be defined in the context of technology education?How important is problem solving in technology education?Does problem solving hold a different place in a technology education curriculum than it did in industrial arts?This article will explore design and troubleshooting as subcategories of problem solving and will argue that the systematic evaluation of the impacts of technology(technology assessment)should be considered an equally important category of problem solving.
Problem Solving:A Definition Problem solving has been defined in many ways.One simple yet
meaningful definition describes a problem as a need which must be met(Ritz,et al. 1986a).This need could include, among other things,the need to understand the forces of nature (science),to alter the environment (technology),
or to use scientific knowledge to alter the environment(engineering).