Problem Solver

Effective problem solvers are able to draw upon their knowledge, skills and past experience to create solutions to unfamiliar problems across a range of different contexts.

  1. Why is this graduate attribute important?
  2. Ideas for incorporating into module or programme

[Back to Graduate Attributes Homepage]

Why is this graduate attribute important?

Problem solving skills empower students not only within the context of their programmes, but also in their personal and professional lives. Many employers cite good problem solving skills as a desired attribute that they would like graduates to bring to the workplace.

With an ability to seek out and identify problems, effective problem solvers are able to actively engage with a situation, think creatively, to consider different perspectives to address identified challenge, to try out possible solutions and subsequently evaluate results as a way to make decisions. Through this process they are able to consolidate new and emergent knowledge and develop a deeper understanding of their subject discipline. 

[Back to Top]

Ideas for incorporating into module or programme

Some case study ideas linking skills development to specific learning outcomes are provided below.

Active learning

A Student Learning with Communities involves DIT staff and/or students collaborating with underserved community partners (local groups, not-for-profit organisations, charities etc.) to develop real-life projects for mutual benefit. Learning comes alive for the students as they work on these projects with community partners, developing professional transferable skills, and enhancing their understanding of their specialist subject skills and of the community they work with.

Interested in finding out more? RAFT case study, ScienceRAFT case study Tourism

Example Learning Outcomes:

  1. Students have an opportunity to develop the skills of self-reflection and self-management. 
  2. Student are provided an opportunity to collaborate with peers and develop their team working skills 
  3. Students are provided an opportunity to collaborate with communities and develop their professional capacity

Learning contracts

A learning contract is an agreement negotiated between a learner and a supervisor to ensure that certain activities will be undertaken in order to achieve an identified learning goal, specific evidence will be produced to demonstrate that goal has been reached.

Interested in finding out more? RAFT case study

Example Learning Outcomes:

  1. Students have an opportunity to develop the skills of self-reflection and self-management. 
  2. Students identify their learning goals and needs thus increasing their focus on the subject.

Case Studies

Real life case studies enable students to apply theory to practice prior to going out into work placement or transitioning into employment. Case studies increase the relevance of a topic as well as providing an opportunity for students to break down problems into their constituent parts. Students can be provided with a case study situation to work through using standard protocols either individually or as a group. Alternatively, the case study can be presented as part of a staged process when eg students make decisions at various points based on data presented etc Outcomes/processes can be written up as reports or portfolios of evidence

Interested in finding out more? RAFT case study Science; RAFT case study Social Care

Example Learning Outcomes:

  1. Appraise and evaluate the literature and other sources of information to establish the current boundaries of learning in the chosen topic for investigation
  2. Solve practical problems in applying laboratory skills in new contexts
  3. Describe and defend a proposed systematic experimental approach to the project
  4. To utilise real world practice problems to help students to transfer skills to practice related scenarios
  5. Manage learning tasks independently, professionally and ethically.
  6. Display detailed knowledge and ability to utilise assessment, recording, report writing and planning skills

Live Industry projects

Students work in groups or as individuals on live industry projects, but directly linked to programme modules. Project clients can be sourced from industry by the lecturer or the student. Students can be assessed by completing a Group Project Report, Individual Log and an Individual Presentation (which can be filmed)

Interested in finding out more? RAFT Case Study - Group report, log and filmed presentation

Example Learning Outcomes:

  1. Identify potential issues at the design stage of a project.
  2. Describe the various stages of a project process
  3. Identify good systems of communication and effective strategies to ensure effective workflow of a project through the various stages of production with relevant parties.
  4. Evaluate and critically discuss the success of production on completion of projects that draws on practice and theory.

Research project

As a way to prepare students for final year research projects by linking theory into practice, Students are involved in designing practical tasks. They are given guidelines, but need to work out the methods, including calculations etc themselves. The assessment is more student centered. It can be adapted to suit different levels of learning outcomes, by increasing or reducing the level of guidance given to complete tasks.

Interested in finding out more? RAFT Case Study - Reports

Example Learning Outcomes

  1. Recognise and apply positive aspects of safety communication which is an essential of a successful safety management system.
  2. identify hazards associated with their possible work environments for example chemical hazards, manual handling, fire hazards, biological hazards, physical hazards and human and health hazards.
  3. Identify and recall the relevant safety legislation governing the workplace.
  4. Conduct basic risk assessments within the workplace which will involve the identification of hazards, evaluations of risk and production and application of suitable mitigation measures..

Problem Based Learning

Utilising a project based learning approach can mean that time is scheduled for students to work on a project /problem over a period of weeks. Weekly sessions can be used to work on the project, report on the groups progress and get feedback and guidance from the lecturer. Associated discussion can be used to develop negotiation skills and ensures that students are able to evaluate theirs and others contribution. These skills of reflection/self-evaluation can benefit them in other modules where there are group assignments. Marks can be allocated for both process and project reports

A fully problem based learning approach to the curriculum encourages students to engage in self directed study in a group environment. As well as subject discipline skills, other skills are developed including team work, report writing, communication skills, critical thinking, problem solving skills and presentation skills. Students work in groups to solve a problem. A typical group size is six students and at the start of the year each group will have a tutor observing the process and acting as facilitator. Students are presented with a problem and are expected to work on their individual tasks outside of class time.

Example Learning Outcomes

  1. Solve a subject discipline problem integrating the module learning outcomes 
  2. Identify and analyse potential solutions to the problems. 
  3. Work effectively in, and lead, a peer group communicate effectively through oral presentations and written report research a topic and retrieve information
  4. Propose, plan and carry out an experiment , record data, plot graphs, extract relevant information from graphs, interpret results and test theories present experimental findings through written reports, write proposals and maintain a lab logbook

Interested in finding out more? RAFT case study - Leisure managementRAFT Case Study - Physics

[Back to Top]