Impact of teachers' problem finding on their data finding and problem defining

Cathryn Marie Patricola, Fordham University


The purpose of the present study was to test empirically the initial stages of a creative problem solving method in a realistic context with professional people. The Creative Problem Solving (CPS) method tested was developed by Donald J. Treffinger, Scott G. Isaksen, and K. Brian Dorval, whose work extends from previous CPS methods originated by Alex Osborn and Sidney Parnes of the Creative Education Foundation. Specifically, the study measured the influence of problem finding ability on data finding ability and, in turn, data finding ability on problem defining ability through a path analytic technique. It was hypothesized that success at the former stage should serve as a precursor to success at the latter stage in the CPS model. The influence of evaluation on each of the above stages also was measured. Sixty-three teachers from school districts outside the New York City metropolitan area participated in the study and were asked to complete a series of 4 paper and pencil tasks designed to measure the variables of problem finding, data finding, problem defining, and evaluation. Along with obtaining descriptive statistics, a path analysis was computed in order to examine the causal relationships among the variables. Results revealed a significant direct path between the variables of data finding and problem defining. While a significant positive relationship was also observed between the variables of problem finding and data finding, this relationship was contrary to the hypothesized model based on the measurement of these variables. In contrast to the above significant relationships, a significant direct relationship was not observed between the variables of problem finding and problem defining. In addition, evaluation was not observed to relate significantly to the other variables in the model. In summary, only partial support of the model was obtained, revealing that one's ability to seek data that helps to refine the focus of a problem solving effort was the strongest predictor of one's ability to clearly define a problem at hand. Implications that follow from this result for those responsible for teacher training and supporting teachers working in the educational system were discussed. Recommendations for future research were also addressed.

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Recommended Citation

Patricola, Cathryn Marie, "Impact of teachers' problem finding on their data finding and problem defining" (2005). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI3160650.