To achieve Step 5, individuals will be able to explore problems by analysing the pros and cons of possible solutions.
In the previous step, individuals developed the idea that there are some problems where there is not always one obvious answer and that there might be several possible answers or solutions. In this step, the focus is on how to be able to choose between those possible answers by thinking about the advantages and disadvantages of each.
The building blocks of this step are learning:
When faced with a complicated problem in education, one that does not have one obvious answer or solution, it is important we feel confident we have a reliable way of choosing the best one. Identifying the pros and the cons is one trusted way of doing this. You might have an assignment due in soon as well as a presentation to deliver in the same week. When considering how to split your time preparing for them, it might be worth thinking about what you already know, the research you might still need to do and how much each is worth for your final grade. In education you may need to work through the pros and cons of possible solutions you have come up with in order to make a decision you feel most comfortable and confident with.
Being ready, willing and able to explore a range of solutions and consider the pros and cons is useful in all work places when problems arise. A team of colleagues may have created a number of possible solutions to a complicated problem and have listed the pros and cons for each one. The idea, or possible solution with the greatest number of pros and the fewest cons might be considered the best solution. However, sometimes pros and cons are not equally important. A business might care more about one thing than another. For example, an organisation may be looking to reduce what it spends on employee travel, so supporting them to work from the office or home rather than travelling to meet customers might be more important to them than using trains because they are more environmentally friendly.
Using the pros and cons method can certainly help us to explore the advantages and disadvantages of potential solutions in our daily lives. When choosing a holiday destination, there might be a range of options but you can only afford to visit one country. Or you might be considering a gift for a friend’s important birthday. It is important when considering the pros and cons that we know what matters most to us or those around us when we are making the decision.
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!
To teach this step:
This step can be effectively reinforced in the classroom, as complicated problems are often presented to learners. The key thing is to encourage learners to follow the structured process of generating the range of solutions and then using pros and cons to choose between them. They will often try to shortcut this process, so reinforcing following each step is critical for them to secure this step.
This step is best assessed through a structured activity. For example:
This step is relevant to most individuals, especially those who solve complicated problems in their work.
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 or 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.
At home, you can easily support your child to build their essential skills. The good news is that there
are lots of ways that you can have a big impact, including: