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More Problem Solving Activities to Foster Critical Thinking

Created Mar 11 2017, 05:43 AM by LIPPINCOTT NURSING EDUCATION

In the previous two blogs, I shared some visual activities that can foster critical thinking in learners. Now I would like to share a hand’s on problem solving activity that will get your learners focused and involved. There are several teaching moments that occur in this process. Let’s begin with the problem.

Copy the 3 pieces of this puzzle and cut them out. Give your learners the puzzle with the following instructions:

Arrange the 3 puzzles pieces so that the 2 riders are riding the horses in the traditional way. When arranged correctly, you will be able to see all four legs of each of the horses. You cannot fold, tear, cut or mutilate any of the pieces of the puzzle. Give your learners 2 minutes to accomplish this task.

When learner frustration becomes obvious, I ask for all to stop and turn their attention forward. I ask, “Would it be helpful if I gave you some guidelines?” The response is yes. I then ask everyone to lay the horses back to back. To get the right answer all they must do is to turn the jockeys.

Once the horses are back to back, I have observed learners turning the jockeys over and over again into the incorrect formation. The correct formation comes when the horses are back to back and the riders are in the verticle format, right in the middle. See below. Most people struggle and do not see this possible arrangement. They are captives of a mindset that says the riders must go the other way.

Then I pose the questions, “Are you thinking something is impossible that is not? Are you thinking nursing school is too hard and you can’t learn all of this? That is not true. You have to approach school differently. You must invest time and energy in studying before and after class. You must read the textbook before class and coming in prepared. You must put in the work to get the results, but they are possible. You just have to see it from another perspective.”

This horse and rider puzzle I found online when searching for “thinking puzzles.” It was created in the late 1900’s and is still stumping people today. I would encourage you to seek out puzzles and scenarios that can accomplish the goal of problem solving in a hands on activity.

Michele Deck presents nationally and internationally on innovative teaching methods in the field of health care education and training. She is co-founder and chief executive officer of G.A.M.E.S., a company that specializes in seminars on adult learning and interactive training methods, and Tool Thyme for Trainers, a company which supplies innovative and creative presentation tools for educators worldwide. Honors include ANPD’s prestigious Belinda E. Puetz Award, election to Sigma Theta Tau National Nursing Honor Society, Business Woman of the Year by the National Business Council, and Best Over All Trainer by Creative Training Techniques Companies. She serves on ANPD’s Education committee and was a member of the Editorial board of the Journal for 8 years.