To achieve Step 12, individuals will show that they can create and test hypotheses to help them to understand complex problems and develop theories.
In the previous step, logical reasoning was introduced, including both deductive and inductive logic. Inductive logic is about deriving general rules from what is observed, and so this step builds on that by turning those proposed rules into hypotheses that can be tested. This is important for grappling with complex problems.
The building blocks of this step are learning:
To teach this step:
This step can be effectively reinforced in science learning, but also in other subject areas. Learners could be asked, before embarking on a topic, to give their hypothesis in response to a particular topic – for example, the drivers of the Repeal of the Corn Laws in history.
Learners could review their hypotheses as they learn more and try to disprove their original ideas.
This step is best assessed through:
This step is relevant to individuals who handle complex problems at work, and particularly those involved in research and development. To build this step in the work environment, managers could:
There are plenty of opportunities for building this skill in the workplace:
For those already employed, this step is best assessed through questioning and observation. For instance:
During the recruitment process, this step could be assessed by:
We work with a wide range of organisations, who use the Skills Builder approach in lots of different settings – from youth clubs, to STEM organisations, to careers and employability providers.
We have a lot of materials available to support you to use the Skills Builder Universal Framework with the individuals you work with, including:
We also do a lot of work with organisations who join the Skills Builder Partnership to build the Universal Framework into their work and impact measurement systems. You can find out a lot more using the links below.
In education, you will have heard of hypotheses in relation to for example, scientific study, but they can be applied to other fields of learning to support the solving of complex problems. As a complex problem presents itself you can predict or give a suggested explanation for it – you can create and test a hypothesis. Friends, teachers and tutors can support with these. Testing a hypothesis is about seeing if it can be disproved. For example, in many schools and colleges they sought to re-write timetables when they found that student’s achievements were lower in subjects that were always timetabled to be taught later on in the afternoon. Common methods for testing a hypothesis in education can include a survey, a lab experiment, a field study,or data analysis.
In the workplace, as in education, creating hypotheses can support the solving of complex problems. It is important when creating a hypothesis to be tested, to ask if there is any data already available that could be used, or could a representative survey be carried out efficiently. A business may seek to carry out Market Research for example to find out what their target audience of potential customers would like to see in terms of new products before investing time and money in new product lines which may not be successful. Creating and testing hypotheses could potentially be costly in terms of time and money to a business or organisation, so employees and their managers must make careful decisions as to which hypothesis to test and which resulting action will be taken to best support their organisation.
Creating a hypothesis to be tested can support us to work on solving complex problems wherever we might be – in education, at work or at home. For example, having multiple nights of disturbed sleep can mean a person is suffering from exhaustion and may begin to feel unwell. One hypothesis that could be created and then tested is, is that person drinking too many caffeinated drinks throughout the day which has an effect on the quality of their sleep. It is important to select the method to test the theory which will give you clear results in a time and cost-effective way.
To best practise this step of Problem Solving, apply what you have learnt to a real-life situation. Choose one or more of the activities below, remind yourself of the key points and strategies in the step, and have a go!
As a parent or carer, you might be thinking about how best to support your children to build their essential skills. The good news is that there is lots that you can do that will have a big impact, including:
We’ve developed a whole series of tools and resources to help parents to build these skills, including:
There is also content for older children and young people, including short activities and reflections that they can complete alone, or with you.