To achieve Step 7, individuals will have to show that they can carry out research to build their understanding of complex problems.
In the previous step, the idea of complex problems was introduced: these are problems where links or interdependencies mean that there is no simple technical solution to the problem – no clear ‘correct answer’. This step focuses on the importance of being able to carry out research to explore complex problems.
The building blocks of this step are learning:
To teach this step:
Some elements of this step are straightforward to reinforce in the classroom setting. For example, introducing how we know something and whether that is from primary or secondary research.
Other elements would need slightly more organisation – for example, using complex problems as a focusing lens for covering subject content.
This step is best assessed through a worked activity. For example:
This step will be relevant to some individuals in the workplace, especially those who are involved in solving complex problems through 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 can be assessed through questioning. 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.
Complex problems are those problems that do not have a simple answer. Instead, there are lots of potential answers. In certain subjects or topic areas, you might be required to find further information to complete an assignment. This might be because not much is known about the issue and you may need to carry out research to find out more for yourself. You might also be able to achieve higher grades by including primary or secondary research in your work. When making important decisions such as where to go next in education or beyond, collecting research can help you explore different options and may result in your preferences changing.
When complex problems occur in the workplace you may need to work with others, either internally with colleagues, or externally with those from other organisations to increase your knowledge and understanding before you seek to come up with any solution to the problem. This can take a lot of time and planning. It is important when seeking to build your understanding on a complex issue that you pay close attention to any source of information and seek to use what you have found to good effect. In the world of work, the longer it takes to come up with solutions to any problem often the more costly it is to a business. Equally, rushing may cause losses too if it was not a good solution. You need to make sure you equally do not rush, or take too long – getting the balance right is important.
As complex problems can happen anywhere, it is useful to be able to recognise which type of research is going to be most helpful indifferent situations. It is also important to be clear what you are trying to achieve when beginning any research. You might be considering a big change like moving to a new location, applying for a promotion at work or for a new job, or adopting a pet. There are lots of separate things to consider with this complex problem and gaps in your knowledge may require extra research. For example, you might look in to the facilities available in the new location or public transport to a new place of work.
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.