U076 Key skill assessment unit: Problem solving

5 Effective use of problem solving skills

The purpose of this assessment unit is for you to create a portfolio of your work to represent your skills in problem solving within your study or work activities. This will involve using criteria to help you select examples of your work that clearly show you can use and improve your skills in problem solving. However, by far the most important aim is that you can use this assessment process to support your learning and improve your performance overall.

Using problem-solving skills is not a question of simply selecting a well-defined problem, choosing a particular procedure to deal with it, and then coming up with a solution. It is about you understanding the context in which you are working, recognising a gap between the present situation and what is desirable, and then being able to move strategically towards your goal.

To work on this unit, you need to have opportunities in your study or at work that include problems that are complex, that is, have a number of sub-problems and are affected by a range of factors. The problems are likely to have several possible outcomes or solutions that will give you the opportunity to extend your knowledge of methods and resources and adapt your plans as you achieve the outcomes.

Working on this assessment unit is like embarking on a learning journey. You need to identify your current capabilities and what you hope to achieve. Developing your skills in problem solving involves using different techniques in a variety of situations, using feedback to help you improve and standing back at critical points to reflect on your performance.

It is important to plan ahead for the portfolio work and carefully consider what you need to present as evidence. The work you include needs to present a ‘storyboard’ of your learning journey showing selected pieces of evidence to demonstrate what you did to tackle the problem and the outcomes you achieved. You need to take time to practise and apply your skills over a period of time. You should allow at least 3–4 months to improve, apply your skills and put together your portfolio.