What type of problem is it? (It might have elements of more than one type.)
What information might you and others need to solve this problem? From whom, or where, might you retrieve, or produce it?
What technologies might help you out? What skills? What specialist knowledge?
What criteria would be used to judge the relevance of this information? How might your criteria differ from those of the other people involved in the problem?
What obstacles might get in the way of finding out this information? Or otherwise making best use of it?
What information might you look to produce, as a way of helping solve, or at least address, the problem? (As in the example of the schoolchildren making some kind of presentation to local businesses, the council, etc.)
The problem is there being a significant variation in the learners’ satisfaction with their teaching/learning experience. How do we try to address this variation.
I think it is probably principally a case/systems analysis and dilemma problem element. Is the problem real or perceived as real based upon the questions we ask in the survey (subjective). Do teachers see it as a problem? Do students?
Feedback from students on their learning experience. Information from customer services staff. Observation reports. Information from teachers of their teaching experiences. Meetings with the staff representatives. Official complaints made by learners about teachers. All subjective. Use questionnaires, interviews with CS staff, focus groups with students, focus groups with teachers. Ask colleagues around the network (within the organisation) for their experiences. Seek out experiences from outside the organisation. What solution have been found.
On-line questionnaires of current leaners.(Survey Monkey, Constant Contact). Dropout questionnaires to find out why students stopped studying. Clear observation criteria and experienced observers (using Diploma criteria) what constitutes a good lesson (subjective). Video of other teachers’ classes. Always will be personality differences one students perceives the teacher as very good and another in the same class sees the opposite. Skills in designing questions that will provide you with the information.
(how will you know this? This has to involve double-loop learning http://www.infed.org/thinkers/argyris.htm
“When the error detected and corrected permits the organization to carry on its present policies or achieve its presents objectives, then that error-and-correction process is single-loop learning. Single-loop learning is like a thermostat that learns when it is too hot or too cold and turns the heat on or off. The thermostat can perform this task because it can receive information (the temperature of the room) and take corrective action. Double-loop learning occurs when error is detected and corrected in ways that involve the modification of an organization’s underlying norms, policies and objectives.”). Focus group skills – can the facilitator ask questions to draw out the information – good facilitation skills.
Filters – managers criteria might different from that of teachers and staff reps. Managers criteria will differ within the group. Seniors mangers criteria are different (legal and contractual) considerations. What do students consider to be a good lesson (cultural contexts of Spanish education)? CPD – resistance as not seen as relevant (IWBs), nearing retirement age. Perception by teachers that there is no problem. Is CPD the answer?
Questionnaires, focus groups and information gathering might be seen as imposing a solution from “above”. Need to negotiate and discuss with all stakeholders that there is in fact a problem, and how to go about finding a solution. Danger of colonising the problem as the solution probably lies partly with the individuals and they need to recognise this and respond to it. Teachers’ previous experiences of dealing with under performance becomes part of the collective memory “witch hunts” – create and intersubjective opinion. Teachers question managers’ skills and ability to assess class room practice, especially if they have been out of the classroom for a long time. Are managers up to date with current thoughts, ideas, research and trends in classroom practice?
Did the questions provide the information? Do they need to be redesigned based on the results? Double-loop learning
Workshops from colleagues, CPD, peer observations. The raising of students’ awareness of we (as teachers) believe to be a “good lesson” – explanation of the theory and approach we adopt (cultural differences Spanish students expectation that they bring to the classroom are different). Teachers design own training programme. Mentoring. Both mentor and mentee can learn from each other. Develop intersubjective opinion on a plan of action to solve problem. Get teacher buy in.
The dissemination of information – make students’ comments from surveys available to all staff (as with the Ipsos/Mori research from several years ago). There is need for long-term work to develop new perceptions on the information that has been collected. This is change and this is not easy; it is political. It is all very well learning about what the issues are but we need to change them and this needs to be communicated to all those involved with the issue
The mental processes involved with this activity and my reflection on it show that problem solving (where the problem is a case/systems analysis and dilemma) is complex and the process of addressing the problem itself will the change the problem environment. What is the impact of the solution on other people?