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When one looks at STEM disciplines as a whole, the need for effective problem solving skills is a commonality. However, studies indicate that the bulk of students who graduate from problem-solving intensive programs display little increase in their problem solving abilities. Also, there is little evidence for transfer of general skills from one subject area to another. Furthermore, the types of problems typically encountered in introductory STEM courses do not often cultivate the skills students will need when solving “real-world” problems. Initial efforts to develop and implement an interdisciplinary problem categorization matrix as a tool for instructional design are described. The matrix, which is independent of content, shows promise as a means for promoting useful problem-solving discussion among faculty, designing problem-solving intensive courses, and instructing students in developing real-world problem solving skills.
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