**Target**

Increasing creative problem solving skills

**Participants**

267 middle school students (6th, 7th, and 8th grades) in a medium-sized city in 6 schools, 78 gifted, 106 honor, and 83 average (9 receiving SPED services not included)

**Technique**

The Creative Problem Solving (CPS) process was used as the treatment and included six steps: (1) mess finding--identifying an area of concern or a problem you wish to solve or improve upon; (2) data findingógathering information about the problem situation;

(3) problem findingóbrainstorming a variety of problems and subproblems related to the mess, re-phrasing, then narrowing down to the one on which you choose to work; (4) idea findingóbrainstorming as many solutions to the problem as possible; (5) solution findingódeveloping and using criteria to reduce the list of solutions to the most viable one(s); and (6) acceptance findingódeveloping a plan for implementing the best solutions. Students participated in a 45-lesson curriculum over a 9 to 18 week period. The first 10 to 15 lessons were about group dynamics. The next 15 to 20 lessons were about the creative problem solving process, brainstorming, the six steps of CPS, and various practice activities. Students used CPS to solve real problems, present the problems, and determine best solutions.

**Evaluation**

Researcher examined differences using pretests and posttests between groups and for students in different ability levels on five outcome measures: problem fluency, solution fluency, flexibility, originality, and use of criteria. All of the students benefited from participation in the unit, but no one ability level gained significantly more than another. The results support that all three groupsógifted, honors, and average studentsócan benefit from CPS. Students not formally identified as gifted can benefit from CPS instruction. Expanding instruction that includes higher level thinking skills and involves all students should provide opportunities for the teacher to identify potentially gifted students.

**Source**

Schack, G. D. (1993). Effects of a creative problem-solving curriculum on students of varying ability levels. Gifted Child Quarterly, 37(1), 32-38.

**Developer**

Linda B. Hensley, ETSU

**Target**

Increasing problem-based learning skills

**Participants**

93 males, 74 females, all sophomores attending a three-year residential school for students talented in mathematics and science

**Technique**

The experimental classroom used an instructional approach called problem-based learning where an ill-structured problem initiates learning and the teacher serves as the coach instead of an information repository. The problem-based learning approach used problems in intermittent post-holes to teach American Studies. Post-holes represented learning episodes inserted into the scope and sequence of the course. No direct instruction of material was covered and no textbook readings were assigned. The textbook was available as a research resource. The objective was to resolve problems using data and perspectives consistent with places, people, and events, and chronology found in each problem situation. Questions were generated by the students. For example, in one problem about America's rise to world power, students were asked to advise the President on a strategy to end the war in the Pacific. Students received a memorandum from the Secretary of War requesting recommendations for an end to the war and a briefing sheet on the recent detonation of an atomic bomb in New Mexico. Problem solving began with the identification of questions about issues facing the warring parties. The questions were divided among the students, and the next three classes were devoted to research and developing a comprehensive understanding of the situation in the Pacific. Several options were identified, and students compared the recommendation they made to the President to the actual historical account. The comparison classrooms were dominated by teacher presentation and instruction and a standard textbook was used with little or no problem-solving activities integrated into the instruction. Instructions using higher order thinking skills (synthesis and evaluation) were part of each course.

**Evaluation**

Researchers examined differences using a 65-item multiple choice pretest and posttest to measure the growth of knowledge that students stored in stable memory and determine the effect of the problem-based approach on a standard measure of achievement. The problem-based learning class had the highest average gain which was almost four points. Students in the problem-based course retained as much factual information as students in the regular classes. The study supports the claim that teaching for depth of understanding facilitates retention of facts.

**Source**

Gallagher, S.A. & Stepien, W.J. (1996). Content acquisition in problem-based learning: Depth versus breadth in American studies. Journal for the Education of the Gifted, 19(3), 257-275

**Developer**

Linda B. Hensley, ETSU

**Target**

Increasing problem-solving skills

**Participants**

78 gifted senior students made up the experimental group and 12 senior gifted students and 31 gifted junior students made up the comparison group

**Technique**

Science, society, and the Future (SSF) is a problem-based course designed with three goals: 1.) lead students to discover "real world problems"; 2.) require students to solve ill-structured problems; and, 3.) improve problem-solving skills. This procedure was taught by a team of teachers for a semester. Two problems were given to each tutor setting (a group of students and a instructor that were going to try and solve the problem). Each problem was only briefly described. Students were assigned specific tasks such as 1.) decide if a problem exist 2.) come up with a clear statement of the problem 3.) brainstorm possible solutions, 4.) find solution, 5.) implementing the solution, and 6.) evaluating the solution. Each instructor tattered fifteen students. The instructor did not give any specific direction to the students. The tutors provided feedback about the problem solving process and gave some ideas about how to find hard-to-find information.

**Evaluation**

An instructor not involved in the process calculated scores for students based on their completion of the six problem-solving steps. If a student did not include one of the steps, a code of "o" was recorded, if the step was included one or more times a code of "1" was recorded.

**Source**

Gallagher A. S., Stepian, W.J., & Rosenthal, H. (1992). The effects of problem-based learning on problem solving. Gifted Child Quarterly, 36, 195-200.

**Developer**

Leslie Lough, ETSU