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Extending and developing your thinking skills
Extending and developing your thinking skills

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7.3 Systematic approaches

Having a systematic step-by-step process for thinking about certain academic tasks can be particularly useful so that everything is done as efficiently as possible.

For example, the DANCE system (Rose and Nicholl, 1997) is one of many tools for solving problems.

  • D - Define and clarify what the problem really is (sometimes it is not initially clear). What are your goals?

  • A - Think of a range of alternative ways of solving the problem.

  • N - Narrow down the range of possible solutions to leave the best.

  • C - Choose the ideal solution and check what the consequences might be.

  • E - Effect action using the best solution.

Activity 17

Try using the DANCE technique on a problem from your course. Or perhaps a problem from everyday life (e.g. you cannot get to work because you car will not start).


Here is the way we worked through the work-and-car example.

Definition of the problem - The car won't start and we want it to. What is the real problem? After checking things in sequence (most obvious reasons first), the answer is that there is no petrol in the tank.

Alternative solutions - See if a neighbour has some petrol; go and buy a containerful from the nearest garage; call an automobile rescue service.

Narrow down solutions - The neighbour is out; either go to the garage or call the rescue service.

Choose the best solution - Going to the garage will be quicker and cheaper as our policy does not have home-start cover.

Effect action - Go to the garage and buy the petrol.