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What's Your Problem?! Designing Curricula for Problem Seeking

Session 1
James Lerman & Jeremy Angoff — Kean University; OunceIT, LLC; Cambridge School of Weston; Atrium School; The SteppingStone Foundation/College Success Academy

Development of student facility in problem seeking (identification of problems) may be just as important a skill as problem solving, according to educational leaders such as Ewan McIntosh and Alan November. In other words, being able to find and define meaningful problems is as crucial a skill as working to address or resolve them.

Most programs in problem-based learning rely on teachers to define problems for students to work on. This approach continues the practice of placing the student in a subordinate position. Problem-seeking emphasizes student initiative and leadership in selecting and defining problems for investigation, study, and resolution. In this setting, the role of the teacher is to establish the learning environment by guiding, facilitating, and motivating.

James Lerman and Jeremy Angoff have piloted three small projects, and are planning additional endeavors, in problem seeking among students in elementary and high schools near Boston, and in a NJ university near NYC. This session will explore their experiences and approaches after one semester of involvement in problem seeking with students. Students from at least one of these pilots have been invited to participate with us at the conference.

We will all participate in a hands-on exercise used in the project, share thoughts on the objectives of a problem-seeking approach, examine tools and protocols used in the project, and share thoughts on the efficacy of various approaches to student problem seeking.

Conversational Practice

  1. All attendees will participate in a two-step, hands-on exercise used in the project to begin the process of problem identification. This will be highly participatory.

  2. Discussion of the question, “What does good problem seeking have to do with leadership, learning, and schools?”

  3. Presenter and participants share and discuss experiences with and strategies for teaching these skills (tools, protocols, successes, lessons learned, etc…).

  4. Presenter and participants share thoughts on the efficacy of problem-seeking.

Conversation Links

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Presenter Profiles

Jeremy Angoff
Jeremy Angoff
OunceIT, LLC


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