Learning to Grapple with Difficult Problems: Activation Matrix - An Instructional Approach

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Society is fraught with difficult problems and graduates of our educational institutions are expected to deal with these issues. One of the challenges is selecting appropriate tools that will provide an affordance for solving these problems. Tools have traditionally been a way to gain a physical or cognitive advantage. Selecting the most appropriate tool for the task at hand is a learning process that should be fostered. This paper will present an instructional approach entitled, “Activation Matrix” which is a process for selecting tools and strategies for solving problems. The technique is based on cognitive theory and slows students down to be systematic in their selection of tools. This approach encourages students to identify the important elements of a problem and match that to tools under consideration. Illustrative exemplars will be provided using visual representations and technology; two areas where this technique is a good fit.


Keywords: Problem Solving, Technology, Visual Representations, Cognitive Theory, Learning
Stream: Creative Arts and Learning
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: , Learning to Grapple with Difficult Problems


Marlo Steed

Associate Professor, Faculty of Education, University of Lethbridge
Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada

Marlo Steed is an associate professor at the University of Lethbridge in Alberta Canada. He teaches many of the technology related courses for preservice teachers, supervises practicum experiences, and has been involved in research of visual representations, problem solving, simulations, and the assessment of online courses. His interests include learning, visual representations, principles of design and layout, NewMedia, Internet, problem solving, and 3D virtual environments.

Ref: L08P0299