Perspectives on problem solving and instruction

Jeroen J. G. Van Merrienboer*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Most educators claim that problem solving is important, but they take very different perspective on it and there is little agreement on how it should be taught. This article aims to sort out the different perspectives and discusses problem solving as a goal, a method, and a skill. As a goal, problem solving should not be limited to well-structured problem solving but be extended to real-life problem solving. As a method, problem solving has clear limitations for novice learners; providing ample support to learners is of utmost importance for helping them to develop problem-solving skills. As a skill, problem solving should not be seen as something that only occurs in the early phases of a process of expertise development but as a process that develops in parallel in System 1 and System 2. The four-component instructional design model (4C/ID) is briefly discussed as an approach that is fully consistent with the conceptualization described in this article and as a preliminary answer to the question how problem solving is best taught.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)153-160
JournalComputers & Education
Publication statusPublished - May 2013


  • Problem solving
  • Instructional design
  • Complex learning

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