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Collaborative problem solvers are made not born – here's what you need to know

https://theconversation.com/collaborative-problem-solvers-are-made-not-born-heres-what-you-need-to-know-110663

theconversation.com

Collaborative problem solvers are made not born – here's what you need to know
From the biggest 'wicked' problems on down, finding solutions to challenges depends on working together collaboratively. Students think they're good at this, but they aren't. Here's what could help.

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The global deficit of collaboration skills

The global deficit of collaboration skills

People are continually handling problems that require advice from others. We face issues that are broad in scope and impact, such as climate change.

But people are not naturally competent in collaborative problem-solving. Generally, people aren't being taught this skill either. A 2015 international assessment of students revealed that more than 90% of students could not overcome teamwork obstacles or resolve conflict. However, this deficit could be addressed and lead to positive change.

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How collaborative problem-solving should work

Team members need interpersonal competencies, communication skills like listening to learn, and the ability to take other's perspectives.

Collaborative problem-solving requires team members to create and maintain a shared understanding of the situation. Initially, there will be an uneven distribution of expertise and interpretation of the problem that will require clear communication. Then the team can lay out subtasks based upon member roles, or create mechanisms to coordinate member actions.

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Students have limited collaboration skills

There are interrelated factors why so many students are unable to collaborate.

While students engage in group work in high school and college, they rarely receive meaningful instruction, modelling, and feedback about their teamwork abilities. This results in students overestimating their collaboration skills.

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A prescription for better collaborators

  • Research shows it's possible to teach collaboration competencies such as dealing with conflict and communicating to learn.
  • Students need opportunities for practice. They need to learn to work across disciplines, so that after graduation, they can work across professions on solving complex societal problems.
  • Feedback telling students how well they were able to take on the perspective of a teammate from another discipline is required, not merely feedback on whether students solved the problem.

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SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:

Remain objective

Great problem solvers approach each new problem as though it were brand new. 

That way they can apply a specific solution to the problem instead of a fix that may go only partway.

List the obstacles

Great problem solvers take a high-level view of the issues involved and jot down a list of all the potential factors that could get in the way of a solution. 

Identify the opportunity

So many times great opportunities are wrapped up inside simple problems.

The problem at hand may be symptomatic of bigger problems with your systems or perhaps your industry.

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