Educational Technology Research and Development

, Volume 67, Issue 6, pp 1529–1545 | Cite as

Developing real life problem-solving skills through situational design: a pilot study

  • Lin ZhongEmail author
  • Xinhao Xu
Development Article


Current problem-solving research has advanced our understanding of the problem-solving process but has provided little advice on how to teach problem-solving skills. In addition, literature reveals that individual difference is an essential issue in problem-solving skills instruction but has been rarely addressed in current research. Building upon information-processing theory, this article proposes an instructional design model, namely the situational design model, which serves as an approach to accommodate individual difference in problem-solving skills instruction. This design model was further examined with a pilot study in an introductory technology course and results showed a significant difference in students’ academic performance and problem-solving skills, especially the non-recurrent skills. The proposed situational design model contributes to research and practice by providing a novel lens to explore problem-solving skills and assisting in the design of instruction that aims to develop student’s expertise in solving real world problems.


Problem-solving skills Individual differences Learning readiness Situational design 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Association for Educational Communications and Technology 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Workforce Education and DevelopmentSouthern Illinois University CarbondaleCarbondaleUSA
  2. 2.School of Information Science & Learning TechnologiesUniversity of Missouri ColumbiaColumbiaUSA

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