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Problem Solving

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Problem Solving skills help adults think critically and creatively to navigate different challenges or conflicts, including those arising in personal, career, or academic settings. Solving these problems involves setting goals and using relevant Background Knowledge, resources, and skills to generate meaningful solutions.

Main Ideas

There are multiple aspects of Problem Solving that aid adults across a variety of situations, including:

  • Creativity involves brainstorming, weighing possible solutions, and enacting plans to address different situations. Insight also helps individuals reconceptualize information to arrive at inventive solutions. Creativity is supported by many factors, including Background Knowledge, Reasoning, Working Memory, Motivation, and self-efficacy.
  • Critical thinking involves the use of analytical thinking and Reasoning to achieve goals. These goals may be aligned to decision making or evaluating arguments and evidence. Critical thinking is essential for Critical Literacy, or the ability to identify the purposes, motives, and potential biases of a particular text. Inferencing is part of this process, helping readers make connections and understand what may not be explicitly stated in the text.

Although the research findings are mixed, there is evidence that suggests that some adults with learning differences including ADHD and dyslexia may show increased Problem Solving abilities, including creativity and Reasoning. These skills may be due in part to their neural and cognitive differences but also may emerge as a byproduct of learning how to best use their strengths to mitigate learning and performance challenges they may experience in school and beyond.

The development of technology (e.g., the Internet, social media) and greater information available digitally has brought about a need for New Literacies, which include understanding of multimodal texts. These literacies have become necessary for modern societal participation and require information literacy, that is, the ability to discern fact from fiction across a variety of sources.

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