The Interactive Role of Strategies, Approaches, and Purpose in Digital Problem Solving

When thinking about how people digital problem solving, our data lead us to consider the interactive roles of strategies, problem solving approaches, and the problem solver’s purpose.

  • Strategies are cognitive tools used when a problem solver doesn’t have the skills needed to easily solve a problem or complete a task online.
  • Approaches are ways a person uses strategies.

A problem solver’s approach and strategic choices are impacted by (a) environmental and sociocultural factors, (b) the problem solvers’ unique repertoire of experiences and affective concerns and (c) context/purpose for engaging in the digital problem solving event.

  • A problem solver’s purpose may be to achieve a result on an assessment task, or the application of digital problem solving in the context of real world activity. To be a, nimble problem solver, one must incorporate strategies flexibly, not just once but on a regular basis across contents and events.

Each problem solver, whether they have a wide range of experiences or a limited range of experience, will approach a problem differently and enact a strategy differently depending on context and experience.  

It is important to understand that the data show there is no one “right” way to digital problem solve. Instead, problem solvers draw on a range of experiences across contexts and at times an approach or strategy may help a problem solver achieve a goal and at other times the continued use of that approach and strategy might not be helpful.

We would love to hear how you see strategies, approaches, and purpose playing out in your work with adult learners. Please add your insights in the comments!

Go to PDX Scholar for a fuller discussion of our research.

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