In a classroom, the average students (low scoring pupils) may outnumber the toppers. A teacher gives equal guidance to all the students. But the way students grasp the lessons varies from one learner to another. Elders should never estimate a student’s intelligence on the basis of his score in an examination. In some cases, the high scoring students (toppers) may fail to find solutions to some real life problems while the average students may be able to solve the same problems.
In an organization, some employees may have more productive skills, while some others may be less productive. At times, it is possible that even those with relatively more productive skills may fail to impress their employer, while those with lesser productive skills may hit the jackpot. How does it happen? The less productive employees apply a suitable strategy to win over their employer, while the more productive, despite being intelligent, fail to attract the attention of their superiors. This example signifies the fact that adoption of relevant strategy is important. The same applies to educational pursuits too.
In business, some entrepreneurs reach dizzy heights, while some others struggle to break even.
The major reason for the difference in the success levels is the suitability or otherwise of the strategies applied in each case. If we apply apt and suitable strategies at the right time, they are bound to reap good results.
Eduranet Education System has developed powerful learning strategies, which guide students in finding the right solution to their problems and making the right decisions at the right time. Resource management strategy, i.e., making optional use of available resources as per the requirements, is one of the most valuable strategies, devised by Eduranet Education System. Continuous evaluation of performance and progress forms another key element in the learning strategy.
We have developed excellent and easy-to-understand material on learning strategies for the benefit of students, who are determined to follow a scientific process in the pursuit of education. The material, as you are already aware, will be available only to the members of the Learning Strategies Course’05 of Eduranet Education System.
1. Problem Solving
If there is a problem there must be a solution. We encounter a variety of problems in our daily life. There are many approaches to problem solving, depending on the nature of the problem and the people involved in the problem. It becomes easier to solve a problem if we know its root cause. We can follow more than one strategy to solve any kind of problem. But we need to opt for the right strategy.
Eduranet believes that the following are major problem solving strategies.
(a) Understand the problem:
- Identify the problem.
- Make sure you understand the situation well.
- Understand the available information that is provided.
- In finding a solution to many problems, drawing a clear picture is very helpful.
(b) Use available information:
First focus on the objective. What do you need to know in order to answer the question?
Then look at the given information. How can you use that information to get what you need to know to answer the question?
If you do not see a logical path leading from the given information to the solution, just try something. Look at the given information and think about what you can find from it, even if it is not what the question is asking for. Often you will find another piece of information that you can then use to answer the question.
(c) Write equations You need to express mathematically the logical connections between the given information and the answer you are seeking.
This involves: Assigning variable names to the unknown quantities. The letter x is always popular, but it is a good idea to use something that reminds you what it represents, such as d for distance or t for time. The trickiest part of assigning variables is that you want to use a minimum number of different variables (just one if possible). If you know how two quantities are related, then you can express them both with just one variable. For example, if Raj is two years older than Kiran is, you might let x stand for Kiran’s age and x + 2 stand for Raj’s age.
(d) Try solution:
Now you just have to solve the equation(s) for the unknown(s). Remember to answer the question that the problem asks.
(e) Check (Review)
Think about your answer. Does your answer come out in the correct units? Is it reasonable? If you made a mistake somewhere, chances are your answer will not just be a little bit off, but will be completely ridiculous.
Eduranet has developed an advanced instructional material on problem solving techniques to guide the course members to select the right strategy to solve problems.
2. Decision Making
Almost every day we need to take some decision or the other in order to solve a problem. This decision making ability gradually sharpens by experiencing a number of real life challenges.
Effective decision making is nothing but a systematic process of coping with matters of concern to you. Following the process offers the greatest chance of resolving many problems.
The process is straight-forward, and it can be applied to many of the problems you encounter. Understand the-following steps in decision making. You could then follow the same process in your problem solving.
The steps are…
- Problem definition
- Information gathering
- Assessment of information
- Choice of decision making
1) Problem definition:
You must know what the problem is before you attempt to solve it. You must begin the process by clearly defining the nature of the problem. On a majority of occasions, those attempting to solve problems get bogged down in the problem solving process by solving “peripheral problems” that are not the “real problems.” Considerable effort is necessary to arrive at a clarity in problem definition.
Example: Inability to study may be a problem — or it may be a symptom of a bigger problem such as distraction resulting from not having a clear educational goal or from an inability to relate to other people.
To solve a problem, you must attack the problem — not an alternative problem or a symptom.
2) Information gathering:
The first stage of information gathering is to decide what kinds of information are relevant to your problem solving. A clear definition of the problem (step #1) is of great help.
After determining the nature of the relevant information, you must determine the facts available in relationship to the relevant information.
Example: Relevant information about a career decision might include:
- Academic ability
- Job facts
3) Assessment of information:
- In this stage you assess the information you have gathered: To see if some information “out weighs” other information
- To identify personal priorities
- To identify the choices or alternatives available to you
4) Choice of Decision Making:
Here is the point where you combine your evaluations of relevant information. Keep in mind that some of your information is more valuable than other information.
- Which plans best fit the gathered information?
- Do your plans and alternative plans fit your problem definition?
Action means DOING IT – taking an action that is parallel with your choice or decision.
- What can you do now to further your plans?
- What can you do subsequently to further them? (Note: Many problems are not solved because no action is taken by the person.
Your choice or decision (step 4) should be viewed as the best possible at this time. As you gather more information about yourself and your environment, a new decision might become a better choice.
You may discover that you need to change your decision or choose an alternative plan. Usually if you’ve completed steps l through 4 thoroughly, these changes will be minor.
There is considerable comfort in having a plan. This activity tends to reduce anxiety.
The review of your plan is to accomplish two goals.
- To identify the strong and weak points of your decision making process.
- To identify more appropriate methods for problem solving in the future.
3. Communication & Collaboration
When people communicate, they share, exchange and process vast quantities of information. Eduranet brings together theories and methods from several formal and experimental disciplines to understand better how this happens. We focus on spoken and written language; we also study communication in other media – visual, graphical and computer-based.
(i) Listening, Sharing & Exchanging (L.S.E.):
Eduranet Education System has invented one of the most effective methods that helps students develop an effective communication strategy and collaborative attitude depending on respective situations. The method is L.S.E.
L.S.E. stands for:
(a) Listening – L
(b) Sharing – S
(c) Exchanging – E
(a) Listening: Listening just does not involve giving an ear to somebody else. It requires rapt attention and skill. Development of the listening skill demands practice.
Real listening is an active process that has three basic steps.
I. Hearing: To hear means to receive or become aware of a sound using your ears. For example, you happen to hear a lecture on zebras and the speaker mentions that no two zebras look alike. If you can repeat the fact, then you have clearly heard what has been said.
2.Understanding: The next part of listening involves understanding what has been told.. Let’s go back to the example on zebras. When you hear that no two are alike, think about what that might mean. You might think, “Maybe this means that the pattern of stripes is different for each zebra.”
3.Judging: Once you are sure you understand what the speaker has said, think whether it makes sense. Do you believe what you have heard? You might think, “How could the stripes be different for every zebra? But then again, the fingerprints are different for every person. Therefore, this may be true.”
(b) Sharing: Sharing the available information on a relevant topic with others is important in all kinds of communication. You can share knowledge by verbal discussions, documented information etc. Sharing knowledge with others improves one’s understanding of a subject and helps clear doubts, if any. For example, sharing your experience of performance in a competitive examination like IIT-JEE with your juniors helps them understand the right mode of preparation for such exams.
While doing so, you may also come to know about some of the mistakes you might have committed unknowingly in the examination. This, in turn, helps you not to repeat the same mistakes in future examinations. Likewise, a research team working together by sharing respective knowledge and experience of each member will be able to produce the best of results by virtue of collective potential.
(c) Exchanging: Exchanging knowledge is another interesting aspect of human communication. A good communicator always realizes the inadequacy in the information available to him/her and removes the discrepancy by exchanging knowledge with others. For example, your cousin’s marriage is slated for 20th August, 2005. But, you forget the real date and think that the marriage is to be held on 21st August, 2005. But, while talking to another relative of yours, you come to know the real date of the marriage. Your forgetfulness is the ‘inadequacy in the information available’. You remove the discrepancy by exchanging your knowledge with that relative who knows the correct date of the marriage.
Likewise, while answering questions in an interview, you may give wrong answers to certain questions with the wrong notion that you have given the correct answers. When you realise your mistake, you certainly regret it. But, you can rectify it by exchanging your ‘inadequate’ knowledge (wrong answers) about the questions with the ‘adequate’ knowledge (right answers). That is you get the right answers from those who know them. This is the benefit of exchanging knowledge.
ii) Doubts, Queries or Questions (DQ)
When our minds indulge in the process of understanding spoken or written information, we tend to experience mental blocks. These mental blocks are nothing but doubts. In such situations, our minds just refuse to think ahead, unless and until the doubts are cleared thoroughly.
“Sir, I have a doubt”, “Mummy! I do not understand this”, “Friend, I want to ask you a question”. We more often than not, hear these words. How do we define ‘doubt’? Doubt is ‘uncertainty about something, especially about how good or true it is’. In the context of learning practice, doubts are a positive sign of the inquisitiveness of learners and their determination to improve their comprehension levels.
Whenever we get doubts, we transform them into queries. “Sir, won’t you do it”, “Won’t you explain it”, “Sir, won’t you repeat it” are the common queries expressed by learners. A query is a ‘question, often expressing doubt about something or looking for an answer from an authority’. Creating queries is a very good trait of a potentially good communicator. Expressing a query may be either in the spoken form or in the written form.
Eduranet has developed DQ method for communication and collaboration for mutual benefit of the one who asks a query or question and the one who answers it.
Eduranet has no doubt whatsoever that a smart learner keeps asking questions till he/she gets the correct answer that satisfies his/her curiosity.
More questions lead to more knowledge and more knowledge leads to more and more learning.
The ‘Learning Strategies Course’ material is based on effective problem solving strategies, wise decision-making capabilities and good communication and collaboration skills. It also contains relevant suggestions and guidelines for personality development.