The Self-Determined Career Development Model is based on problem solving. People who use the model set a goal to achieve something they choose. Problem solving skills help to support the Self-Determined Career Development Model.
Problem-solving can be defined as “determining the most appropriate and efficient response to a given problem” (Agran and Hughes, 1997). It is a skill that includes gathering and organizing information to analyze a situation, identifying a solution, and executing the solution (Agran, Blanchard, Wehmeyer, and Hughes, 2002). While most of us have never had any formal training in problem-solving, there are few that would argue about the usefulness of problem-solving skills. Problem solving skills affect all aspects of life including our work, social situations, and family life. Further, effective problem solving skills are a key element in facilitating self-determination (Wehmeyer, 1996).
Here are some brief suggestions that might be used to facilitate or promote problem solving skills. Problem solving uses four phases or steps:
Each step is described below.
Looking at the difference between the current situation and what is wanted helps to define the problem (Agran and Hughes, 1997). Consider asking the following questions to identify the problem:
Once the first three questions are answered, write a short statement about the gap between what is wanted and the current situation. Does this statement identify and define the problem?
Another way to identify and define a problem is to determine when and where the problem occurs and does not occur. For example, does the problem always occur in certain settings but never in other settings? Is the problem only apparent at certain times of the day and never occurs at other times? If you still have not identified the problem, Agran and Hughes (1997) provide a good review of additional questions that might be asked to clarify things.
Next, look at potential solutions to the problem. Agran and Hughes (1997) summarized most of the ways that a solution might be identified. These methods include:
Another way of finding a solution is to use the resources around you. For example, the people who serve as natural supports can be extremely helpful when attempting to look for solutions. Asking parents, siblings, friends, and coworkers may produce a useful list of potential solutions to a problem. Once a list of potential solutions is identified, it will be helpful to:
Once the plan for solving the problem has been made, there are several final consideration prior to implementing the plan. Consider the following:
Did your solution work? Hopefully, it worked and the problem has been solved. If the problem has not been solved, it may be helpful to go back over the steps described above and consider the following questions:
By now you should be well on your way to developing good problem solving skills. Problem solving skills are one of the many skills that contribute to self-determination. There are several forms at the end of this module will help in the development of problem solving skills. The Self-Determined Career Development Model uses many of the steps of problem solving to assist with goal achievement.
Page updated 10/31/06
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Malouff, J. D. (2001 - 2002). Fifty problem solving stragegies explained. Retrievd May 14, 2005, from University of New England School of Psychology web site: http://www.une.edu.au/psychology/staff/malouff/problem.htm
Agran, M., and Hughes, C. (1997). Problem solving. In M. Agran (Ed.), Student directed learning: Teaching self-determination skills (pages 171-198). Pacific Grove, Ca: Brook/Cole.
Agran, M., Blanchard, C., Wehmeyer, M., and Hughes, C. (2002). Increasing the problem-solving skills of students with development disabilities participating in general education. Remedial and Special Education, 23(5), 279-288.
Agran M., and Wehmeyer, M. (1999). Teaching problem solving to students with mental retardation. In Innovations, (15): Research to practice series. Washington, DC: American Association on Mental Retardation.
Wehmeyer, M. (1996). Self-determination for youth with significant cognitive disabilities: From theory to practice. In L. E. Powers, G. H. S. Singer and J. A. Sowers (Eds.), On The Road to Autonomy: Promoting Self-Competence in Children and Youth with Disabilities (pages 115-133). Baltimore: Paul H. Brookes.
Wehmeyer, M. L., Agran, M., and Hughes, C. (1999). Teaching social problem-solving and decision-making skills. In Teaching self-determination to students with disabilities: Basic skills for successful transition (pages 119-138). Baltimore, MD: Paul Brookes Publishing Co.