With all the tests and homework we students get during our years in college, it can be hard to manage the most effective way to solve a problem. Many of us encounter obstacles in problem solving.
Our textbook gives three obstacles to problem solving. One of these is salience of surface similarities, in which we look at surface characteristics of a problem and compare them to other problems that exhibited similar surface characteristics in order to solve the problem. Another is mental sets, when we are stuck using one problem-solving strategy and unable to generate different strategies. The last is functional fixedness, which is when we have difficulty conceptualizing that an object typically used for one purpose can be used for another. (Lilienfeld, 309-310).
To overcome these problems in school I like to break-down complex problems into smaller pieces. So on a complicated word problem in math, I think of an outline of what I need to do to get the information that I was given to a final answer. Then, I will complete each step, one-by-one, and put them together to get my answer. This allows meet to avoid the obstacle presented by salience of surface characteristics.
Make-up for Week 8 - Cognition