What is the Solve Problems and Make Decisions Performance Continuum?

The EFF Solve Problems and Make Decisions Performance Continuum is:

A developmental description of performance on the standard . . .

The EFF standard Solve Problems and Make Decisions, one of the three interrelated and sometimes overlapping EFF standards that are categorized as "Decision making Skills", highlights one domain of adult knowledge and skills that is critical for adults to be able to draw from in order to carry out their responsibilities in their roles as family members, workers, and citizens. Defined generally as the ability to identify a problem situation, ask appropriate questions, make logical predictions and come to informed decisions, problem solving is broadly acknowledged as an important "learning to learn" skill across many domains of content knowledge and activity. Our data has allowed us to describe performance in solving problems and making decisions from Level 1 to Level 3. In the future, research to support the description of higher performance levels or of "pre-Level 1" performance levels for more beginning level learners may be developed.

The continuum has been designed to describe performance in cooperation from Level 1 to Level 5.

A multidimensional description of performance on the standard . . .

Performance levels on Solve Problems and Make Decisions are defined by key features called dimensions of performance. They include:

  • the structure and depth of the knowledge base;
  • fluency of performance;
  • independence of performance;
  • range of performance.

These dimensions reflect an understanding that the development of expertise in problem solving and decision making requires the interrelated development of:

  1. conceptual understanding,
  2. the procedural knowledge of how to apply that conceptual understanding, and
  3. the strategic competence to choose the most appropriate strategies for accomplishing a given task.

A set of benchmarks for the development of proficiency on the
standard . . .

Performance level descriptors define points along the continuum that serve as benchmarks for key stages in development on the standard and for the increasing ability of adults to accomplish important activities that require the ability to solve problems and make decisions.

A set of measures based on applied skills and processes . . .

The performance continuum reflects the kinds of applied knowledge and skills related to problem solving that adults need to meet real world purposes and goals in their lives as workers, citizens, and family members. A summary of the key research principles underlying this approach can be found in the EFF Research to Practice Notes in the EFF Special Collection at http://eff.cls.utk.edu/products_services/online_publications.htm.

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