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Reinforcement Of Problem Solving Skills Using Exam Problems

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2005 Annual Conference


Portland, Oregon

Publication Date

June 12, 2005

Start Date

June 12, 2005

End Date

June 15, 2005



Conference Session

Student Learning and Research

Page Count


Page Numbers

10.1067.1 - 10.1067.6



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Paper Authors

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Ronald Rockland

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Reinforcement of Problem Solving Skills Using Exam Problems

Dr. Ronald H. Rockland New Jersey Institute of Technology


Too many students think they understand how to solve problems, but rarely apply the necessary problem solving skills to these assignments. In other words, they are solving problem, not performing problem solving. This paper describes a process that can be utilized in many EET courses to reinforce concepts of problem solving.

In an upper-division EET course at New Jersey Institute of Technology, problem solving skills are reviewed and demonstrated as part of several lectures. This six- step approach to problem solving that was developed by the author is something that can be taught to the students, but need constant reinforcement for the students to understand how to apply these concepts. Even if students learned how to apply those skills during in-class examples or assigned homework, usually those skills are forgotten during exams, when the need to apply these skills is critical.

To help students understand the need for applying problem solving skills during tests, as well as reinforcing the concepts of problem solving, a specific series of questions were devised for the exam questions that both allowed the students to demonstrate an understanding of this approach, as well as provide the student with a framework to better reach the correct answer.

This approach consisted of requiring students to provide both a problem statement and alternative problem statements, depending on the nature of the problem. Students also were required to write down various other steps used in problem solving that will be detailed in this paper. In addition, the author will review preliminary assessments on the effectiveness of this methodology.


For most technical professionals, problem solving is a primary job function.1 According to Goldsmith2, we must develop different skills -- the two most important being creativity and problem solving.

However, the concept of problem solving often is confused with the ability of students to solve problems. Student's skills in problem solving can be measured by examining the process followed to solve a problem rather than the actual solution found 3. Considering that concept, students are really solving problem, not performing problem solving.

Several papers 4,5 and texts6-7 have addressed the concepts of teaching problem solving techniques in the classroom. However, these concepts need to be reinforced in everything the

Proceedings of the 2005 American Society of Engineering Education Annual Conference and Exposition Copyright © 2005, American Society of Engineering Education

Rockland, R. (2005, June), Reinforcement Of Problem Solving Skills Using Exam Problems Paper presented at 2005 Annual Conference, Portland, Oregon. 10.18260/1-2--15431

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