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Problem Solving Strategies: Evaluation of the Process Essay

How did you interpret the problem?

I interpreted the problem by realizing from the beginning that there was virtually no correct “answer” to this situation.  I could not use the thought process of information retrieval and trying to compare this problem with one that was similar to me from past experiences, such as a literal problem on a test that could be answered with a true/false or answer from a list of choices, I could not treat the problem as a test-related problem, per se.  So, in essence, I tried to treat the problem as a new type of challenge that could be figured out, but without a pre-existing knowledge base and only an existing mental framework.

What strategy did you use and how did you evaluate your progress?

I had to reframe the exercise to make it seem like a challenge, where there was no right or wrong, answer, but instead a way of dealing with the task at hand.  I then tried to use trial and error and used each variation of animals crossing and/or remaining on the original shore, this too did not work.  In dealing with real-life problems, I do tend to use hill-climbing to get to a place where I can be rewarded with a series of small successes, here I interpreted the problem as being extremely frustrating, as there was no success to build from.

Did you encounter any obstacles while solving the problem?

The obstacles I faced were from the growing frustrations from every trial and error experience that did not yield any success.  I was, also, disappointed in the fact that I realized there had to be some creative response to solving this problem and I was not tapping into my own creativity.  I am not one to become stuck on functional fixedness in life, because I do not limit possibilities to any object or situation.  But, in this particular exercise, I wondered if this was not true, so the self-doubt, frustration, and utter failure of all my previous modes of problem-solving skewed the exercise into a very difficult one.

Were you aware of this thought process as you worked through the problem?

I was aware of the obvious trial and error approach to problem solving, as I tried repeatedly to come to a conclusion to the problem. After failure of the trial and error process, however, my emotions overcame my thought process and I felt essentially lost in the problem.  It felt like I was in a maze with no end and in this way, I believe I was fairly aware of the fact that there was no hill-climbing here to help alleviate the frustration.  With each incorrect attempt, I became more frustrated and the “hill” was not there at all, and I understood that in a sense.  After that, I sat back and attempted to reframe the problem to realize that there must be a solution and the solution lied somewhere in the wording of the problem itself, making “the other side of the river” a different theme entirely.

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