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Key skill assessment unit: problem solving
Key skill assessment unit: problem solving

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8 Part B: Evidencing your problem-solving skills

This Part requires you to present an example of your work to show that you can explore a problem and follow it through to completion. For example, setting up a project to monitor landfill and associated pollution levels; or developing and implementing a work rota for a care course to cover 24 hours, 7 days per week with on-call facilities.

The example you select to evidence your skills in problem solving must meet the criteria in Table 1 and the results should be presented in an appropriate format (e.g. written report, visual display or video clip). You need to make sure that it illustrates the problem-solving process and gives the results with evidence to support the conclusions.

In choosing work for your portfolio it is your responsibility to be selective. If at all possible choose just one or two pieces of work. Each item you include must be annotated clearly to show how it is relevant to the criteria in Table 1. You may find that you do not need to include all your assignments, notes or a complete project report. Including material that is not relevant, or which is not closely related to the assessment criteria, will not strengthen the assessment of your skills. Remember that you are not being assessed on technical content but on the relevance of your evidence to the assessment criteria.

Table 1 Criteria for assessment of your problem-solving skills portfolio and a checklist to help you assess your work against the criteria
Criteria for assessment: evidence you present must show you can:Checklist: check that your evidence shows what you have done to:
Develop a strategy for problem solving.
Identify opportunities for problem solving and clearly establish what you hope to achieve.Describe the context in which you are working and identify where you can use problem-solving skills.
Present 1 or 2 goals with an explanation of why these are important to you.
Explore problems to identify their critical features and devise different ways of teckling them.Using your example, provide notes to show what you did to explore the problem. For example, reframe the problem, divide it into sub-tasks, eliminate misleading information, make comparisons with similar situations. Label or include notes to show that you know what to do to ‘explore a problem’.
Identify relevant sources and research the information needed for planning purposes.Give the critical features of the problem that you have identified and provide notes/reference lists, etc., to show what you did to establish these features. For example, include notes/references of information you have obtained from people, including specialists, and reference material you have used. Remember to include reference material you used to find out about problem-solving methods.
Negotiate with appropiate people the approach to use and plan how you will implement this.Include a plan that you have used for the next stage of the work (e.g. a plan that includes a flowchart or critical-path analysis) and a statement describing the factors taken into account when planning.
Remember to keep notes/records of any revisions to the plan and the reasons for them.
Part of the planning process involves you considering ways to solve the problem. You need to show two aspects here. First, that you know and can use a range of problem-solving methods, e.g. working with others (collaborative); numerical (application of number); and visual. Second, that you can assess the usefulness of different methods in tackling the particular problem and context, e.g. by ranking methods against the main features of the problem, or doing a risk assessment.
Monitor progress and adapt your strategy for solving the problem.
Manage effectively and efficiently the problem solving process, using appropriate methods.Continue the work you did as part of your strategic planning to show the option selected to tackle the problem and what you did to make the final decision. For example, you may have carried out a cost/benefit analysis or negotiated the option with a tutor/manager.
Use your plan to help show you can keep track of your work.
Keep track of progress and systematically check results.Use interim checks and adjustments to see if targets/sub goals are being met and if your methods are helping you approach your goal.
Reflect critically on your approach to tackling the problem and adapt your strategy as necessary to improve your problem-solving skills.Describe any changes you had to make in your plan along the way.
Review your progress by ‘standing back’ at critical points to assess the work and reflect on performance.
Evaluate your strategy and present the outcomes of your problem solving skills.
Bring together and clearly present the results of your approach to problem solving, including evidence to support your conclusions.Present your work as a written report, visual display, demonstration, video clip, etc.
Assess the effectiveness of your strategy, including factors that affected the outcomes, and identify ways of further improving your problem solving skills.Make an assessment of the quality of the work you have done using problem-solving skills by making connections between criteria/feedback comments and your own judgement of your performance.
Agree with appropriate people the extent to which the problem has been solved.Identify those factors that affected the overall quality of your work.
Using this work identify progress so far and areas you want to work on in the future.