Unformatted text preview: they should cross academic domains, they should not
have obvious or clear solutions and solution paths, and their solutions need to be
evaluated on multiple criteria (Jonassen, 1999).
Second, the problems should be engaging, meaningful, and appropriate for
the age of the students (Arends, 2001; Delisle, 1997; Duffy & Fishman, 1993).
It’s important to remember that many children and adolescents do not have the
goal of becoming a content expert in an academic domain (Maxwell, Bellisimo, &
Mergendoller, 2001). Therefore, meaningful problems need to connect academic
disciplines to students’ lives. For example, adolescents face some critical health
issues such as sexually transmitted diseases. Understanding how to reduce the
incidences of sexually transmitted diseases requires application of knowledge
from biology, history, political science, and sociology to name a few disciplines,
and this problem has relevance for students’ lives.
Effective problems not only need to be ill-defined and relevant, but also
realistic in terms of the level of expertise students are expected to show (Jonassen,
1999). If expectations are not matched to student’s level, frustration can result
Finally, when identifying a problem, consider its potential alignment to
important standards or curricular objectives (Delisle, 1997; Torp & Sage, 2002), 49 This is particularly important as schools become places where students are
required to pass high–stakes examinations that cover prescribed standards or
Communicating the problem. Once a problem has been selected, it must
be communicated to students in an understandable manner. First, students need to
understand the context in which the problem is situated. For example, what
advantages and restrictions does the context pose for solving the problem? They
will also need to know who the stakeholders and community of practitioners are
that they will need to interact with or consider in their problem solving (Jonassen,
The problem statement should clearly identify the issue or...
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