Getting to Know the Dimensions of Performance for Solve Problems and Make Decisions

Take a minute now to look over the performance continuum for Solve Problems and Make Decisions. Each of the three levels is on a separate page.

Section 1 — The Components of Performance

The continuum begins with the definition of the standard, one that remains the same for each level of performance. Including the definition as the starting point for each performance level description reminds us that the definition of the standard as an integrated skill process is consistent across the continuum.

Section 2 — Knowledge, Skills and Strategies

The second section is a list of the key knowledge, skills, and cognitive and metacognitive strategies to be mastered for proficient performance at each level. These are the primary behavioral indicators (or benchmarks) of proficient performance at each level.

Bullet 1 focuses on the identification or anticipation of a problem to be solved or a conflict to be resolved, and the gathering and organization of information from familiar and unfamiliar sources about the problem or conflict. The student is expected to use strategies for gathering and organizing information, such as drawing on personal experience, asking questions, simplifying by breaking down the problem into parts, considering the problem from divergent points of view, conducting research, or studying analyses of similar problems. As students move up the levels, they are expected to use more sources and strategies and these strategies become more complex.
Bullet 2 deals with demonstrating - through various modes of representation (such as talk, writing, or simulations) - a basic understanding of the problem or conflict and its root causes. The student is expected to use strategies to demonstrate this understanding. Among these strategies include recalling/restating key information; posing the problem as a question to be answered; reformulating the problem, summarizing and paraphrasing key information; and drawing analogies. As students move up the levels, they are expected to know how to use more modes of representation and use more complex strategies. Students are also expected to draw causal links between the problem or conflict and its context.
Bullet 3 deals with the proposal of solutions to the problem or conflict. Initially students are only expected to propose a limited number of simple solutions. As they move up the levels, they are expected to propose more solutions that are more advanced, involved, detailed, and complex.
Bullet 4 deals with the evaluation of the proposed solutions and the selection of the one that best shows a causal connection to the problem and is the most appropriate for the goal, context and available resources.
Bullet 5 focuses on activities related to planning and carrying out of the selected solution process. Students are expected to use strategies to monitor progress toward a solution such as trial and error, interim summary and evaluation of activities, or active hypothesis testing and verification. As students move up the levels, they are expected to know and use more strategies, and these strategies become increasingly complex. Students are also expected adjust their selected solution based on feedback.

Section 3 — Fluency, Independence and Range

This section is a description of the fluency, independence, and ability to perform in a range of settings expected for proficient performance on the standard at each level.

  • Fluency of performance refers to the level of effort or ease required for an adult to retrieve and apply what he or she knows in order to solve a particular problem or conflict.
  • Independence of performance reflects the extent to which the person needs direction or guidance in organizing, solving, and communicating the solution to a problem or conflict.
  • Range of performance refers both to how well a person can use problem solving and decision making skills and whether the person can transfer learning from one context to another. This includes both a range of kinds and complexity of problem solving and decision making tasks, and a range of contexts and audiences for tasks.

Section 4 — Examples of Proficient Performance

This section includes examples of the kinds of purposeful applications of the standard that can be accomplished by an adult who is proficient at each level. These examples represent only a few of many problem solving and decision making activities that could be developed in adult education settings.

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