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gearing up to diss down

September 15, 2011

With my dissertation defense imminent (date to be announced in the next week or so), it’s time to figure out how to share stuff that may be of interest to my edufolk.

I’ll start with the absurdly long title of my dissertation:

Teacher Problem-Finding Ability Under the Influence: An Exploratory Study of Demographics, Experience, Environment, and Social Justice Stance

What in the halibut is problem finding? Do teachers do it? Do differences exist between how groups of preservice and practicing teachers do it? Jeez-o-flip. Not sure anyone cares about these questions which my dissertation research sought to answer. Apparently, no one cares about dissertations.

Beyond the absurdly long title of my dissertation, I’ll add a tidbit I used to frame my own definition of a teaching- and learning-related problem,  “In problem finding, a problem is a question that arises during an inquiry. It is not a difficulty or an obstacle in life, but a desirable situation that one strives to find or create” (Getzels, 1987 and Jay & Perkins, 1997).


Getzels, J. W. (1987). Creativity, intelligence, and problem finding: Retrospect
and prospect. In S. G. Isaksen (Ed.), Frontiers of creativity research:
Beyond the basics (pp. 88–102). Buffalo, NY: Bearly Limited.

Jay, E. S., & Perkins, D. N. (1997). Problem finding: The search for
mechanism. In M. A. Runco (Ed.), The creativity research handbook (Vol.
1, pp. 257–293). Cresskill, NJ: Hampton Press.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. September 19, 2011 5:53 am

    Dissertations schmizz-otations, here take ya stinkin’ badge and woe!, (Fonzy) begone.
    I gotta get myself sum moar of this GNA stuff,(kudos dsraid-dee-yoe) especially problem finding teacher types. That’s Yummy Cake. I’ll be barrck.

  2. Mark Mcguire permalink
    October 16, 2011 1:13 am

    Hi GNA

    I followed links from Radio sd106 and ended up here. Somehow. Anyway, problem finding sounds good to me. I teach Design, and we are always on the lookout for what some designers call “wicked problems”. They’re the best kind. Here are a few references (I believe it was Buchanan who got this started):

    Richard Buchanan, Wicked Problems in Design Thinking. Design Issues, Spring 1992

    Design Thinking’s Convergence Diversion

    Wicked Problems (Design Mind, Frog Design)

    I pasted a quote from the Frog Design article is pasted below:

    Wicked Problems
    By Adam Richardson, Director of Product Strategy, frog design San Francisco

    “Wicked problems” go far beyond these in terms of difficulty. Rittel and Webber identified several key aspects of such problems which, once listed, you will likely recognize as features of your toughest business decisions:”

    “There is no definitive statement of the problem; in fact, there is often broad disagreement on what “the problem” is.”

    “Without a definitive statement of the problem, there can be no definitive answer, and therefore no clear signal that an optimum solution has been reached. In actuality, there are competing solutions that can activate a great deal of discord among team members and stakeholders alike.”

    “The only way to really understand the problem is to devise a potential solution and watch what it reveals about the problem itself through the changes it effects (thus reversing the normal flow of thinking: with wicked problems, a solution must come before the problem!).
    Solutions to wicked problems are not right or wrong, merely better, worse, good enough, or not good enough. There is a high degree of subjectivity and each stakeholder brings their own perception to the table, causing discord.”

    This is already too long for a comment, so I’ll sign off.

    Mark McGuire
    Twitter: @mark_mcguire

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