# Instructional design models for well-structured and III-structured problem-solving learning outcomes

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## Abstract

Although problem solving is regarded by most educators as among the most important learning outcomes, few instructional design prescriptions are available for designing problem-solving instruction and engaging learners. This paper distinguishes between well-structured problems and ill-structured problems. Well-structured problems are constrained problems with convergent solutions that engage the application of a limited number of rules and principles within well-defined parameters. Ill-structured problems possess multiple solutions, solution paths, fewer parameters which are less manipulable, and contain uncertainty about which concepts, rules, and principles are necessary for the solution or how they are organized and which solution is best. For both types of problems, this paper presents models for how learners solve them and models for designing instruction to support problem-solving skill development. The model for solving well-structured problems is based on information processing theories of learning, while the model for solving ill-structured problems relies on an emerging theory of ill-structured problem solving and on constructivist and situated cognition approaches to learning.

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