Problem-Solving — Description

Practice problem-solving in an online discussion to facilitate the integration and documentation of learning


Time and Effort
Instructor Prep Time High
Student Activity Time Medium
Instructor Response Time High
Complexity of Activity Medium


This discussion type has the primary purpose of gathering evidence for student understanding or grading. It includes activities that require students to use their new content knowledge to solve problems, investigate related questions, and make predictions. This type of discussion is a reflective, integrative, and action-oriented activity, often including solving problems, case analysis, and applying and integrating new concepts with other concepts and relationships (Boettcher, 2019).


Use it when you want...

  1. Students to undergo substantial thinking and research, including citing relevant readings, research, and problem-solving.
  2. Students to apply and integrate the new concepts with other concepts and relationships.


  1. Identify a course concept that offers opportunities for students to apply an analytical process and integrate their content knowledge to solve problems. The complexity of the problem may help inform the problem-solving structure you use.
  2. Decide on a basic structure for problem-solving, such as assigned or self-directed problem choice, what resources and working processes you will accept, and how students will report their findings. For example, for a complex problem that benefits from multiple contributors, you could break the analytic process into parts and assign students in groups of 4-5 to roles within the process. Another example of a less complex problem is to have students work in pairs to articulate their problem-solving process and listen to another’s process. Depending on the student’s skill level, you may choose to provide them with a structure for the problem-solving process.
  3. Consider your expectations for the response pattern. For example, students assigned to specific roles in an in-depth analytic process could prepare a prospectus in which they formulate their research questions, state the goals of the project, and identify the resources they will need to carry out their investigation. They should choose their chosen method, divide up, and assign tasks. Students listening to another student’s problem-solving process could be encouraged to ask probing questions such as “How did you come up with that answer?” or “What evidence supports that claim?”
  4. Provide an online discussion structure that will support the response pattern, such as creating student groups and potentially a collaborative working space.
  5. Give teams time to engage in their processes and to develop their analysis or problem solutions.
  6. Have groups submit their results. Examples: An analysis group may prepare and submit their final reports, or a problem-solving pair may submit individual or team responses to the problem(s).
  7. Review student analysis or formal presentation of findings. You may consider whether to include responses regarding their reflection on the analysis/problem-solving process.
  8. Provide feedback/grade to the group or individual based on the quality of their responses.
  9. Summarize student performance in the next class. Tell them how these skills will affect their future work and make suggestions on how students can improve their analytic process.

Keywordsproblem-solving, discussion, online, integrate, document, case analysis, applicationDoc ID103921
OwnerTimmo D.GroupInstructional Resources
Created2020-07-13 12:51:12Updated2024-04-16 15:25:51
SitesCenter for Teaching, Learning & Mentoring
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