Whether learning to play a complex concerto or
deciding how to spend money, humans use the same
frameworks to solve problems, a recent study from the
Journal of Music Teacher Education shows.
Researcher Rebecca A. Roesler identified five components of problem solving by observing 49 video-recorded lessons taught by six renowned instrumental
teachers. She noted each time problem solving
occurred during the lessons; whether it was initiated
by the teacher, the student, or a combination of
both; and how the problem was solved.
The five components Roesler noted—
establishing goals, evaluating performance, conceiving and considering
options, generalizing and applying
principles, and deciding and
acting—were then compared to
independent studies of problem-solving components in other areas,
from the way infants learn to eat to
how diabetic patients respond to a
glucose monitor. The results were
very similar, suggesting that problem
solving is a universal human trait and
that people use the same processes no
matter what the problem is.
Roesler suggests that training teachers
on these five components and guiding
them through each one can improve classroom
instruction and student learning. For example, she
says, “One teacher may be excellent at evaluating
but lack the knowledge of principles and options that
lead to successful decision-making.” But if trained on
each component, teachers can get better at identifying
problems and providing sound advice to solve them.
“Toward Solving the Problem of Problem Solving:
An Analysis Framework” is available at http://journals.
The Music of Problem Solving
Adv i sor y