SUPPLEMENTARY NOTES School of the Built Environment BUILDING INVESTIGATION PROBLEM SOLVING The Problem Solving Process* 1. Understand the problem o Identify the problem - unknown What are you asked to find/solve? o Known Define Terms Assumptions Other previous knowledge Relevant/irrelevant information o Unknown Gather further information 2. Devise a plan o Sketch a picture or a diagram o Determine operations o Take a risk "Behold the turtle for he does not move forward without sticking out his neck." 3. Carry out the plan o Write out steps o Perform operations 4. Evaluate o Is the problem solved? o Is it reachable? *Source: http://www.mcli.dist.maricopa.edu/pbl/ubuytutor/process.html (Accessed 19/01/04) SUPPLEMENTARY NOTES School of the Built Environment Problem Solving Method for Students** Effective problem-solving requires an orderly approach. Problem-solving skills do not magically appear in students as a result of instructors simply throwing problems at them. Some students use the following heuristic (ie, problem-solving tool): “How to make a DENT in a problem: Define, Explore, Narrow, Test.” (1) Define the Problem Carefully What exactly are you trying to determine? Does the problem have several components? If several, state them separately. Does everyone in the group agree with the way the problem has been framed? Ask group members to “think out loud,” as that slows down their reasoning and enables people to check for errors of understanding. (2) Explore Possible Solutions Brainstorm ideas that may contribute to a solution. Justify your ideas to group members. Clarify for them the technology involved. Have them paraphrase your ideas. Listen carefully to the ideas of other group members and give positive feedback. Make a list of learning issues. What do we know? What don’t we know? Is this problem analogous to any past problem? What core building concepts may apply to this problem? Assign research tasks within the group. (3) Narrow Your Choices After developing a list of hypotheses, sort them, weed them, and rank them. List the type of data required to test each hypothesis. Give priority to the simplest, least costly tests. It is easier to get information on the condition of a building than it is to do sophisticated laboratory tests on materials. (4) Test Your Solution Seek from your instructor/tutor the data that you need to test your ideas. If all your possible solutions are eliminated, begin the cycle again: define, explore, narrow, test. When you encounter data that confirm one of your hypotheses you may be asked to write a technical explanation of your solution and justify it using the available evidence. In other words, you must adopt the scientific method if you want to ensure that your results are reliable. **Source: http://www.saltspring.com/capewest/pbl.htm (Accessed 19/01/04) SUPPLEMENTARY NOTES School of the Built Environment What is the Scientific Method? In scientific and other related disciplines, investigators and researchers follow a process known as the Scientific Method, a methodology that usually involves four stages: 1. First is the Observation stage. The study of any phenomenon must start with the collection of data (ie, quantifiable information and observations) and their systematic arrangement. 2. Second is the Generalization stage. Not all data related to some event can ever be observed, as this would involve an infinite number of observations of the occurrences of a particular phenomenon. It is usually desired to draw conclusions without waiting for future occurrences. Thus, it is assumed that the facts obtained in the previous stage are a fair sample, and that a generalized statement about them can be made. This generalized statement is a tentative scientific theory or proposition, which is yet unproved – in other words a hypothesis. 3. Third is the Verification stage. If the hypothesis is a useful one, likely to become a valid scientific law, it will have a wider range of applications than that covered by the original observations. It can be used as a model from which to predict expected occurrences in this broader realm. This newly deduced information must then be tested in order to determine whether it is, in fact, correct. If the confirmation agrees with the prediction, the hypothesis becomes firmly established as a rule or law. 4. Fourth and last is the Application stage. Once the Verification stage has been completed and the hypothesis validated, the scientific law can be used to predict, with confidence, future results. These results may then be used to expand the scope of the original observations.