Original Articles

By Dr. Amar S Kanekar , Dr. Manoj Sharma
Corresponding Author Dr. Amar S Kanekar
Health Studies, East Stroudsburg University, - United States of America 72204
Submitting Author Dr. Amar S Kanekar
Other Authors Dr. Manoj Sharma
University of Cincinnati, University of Cincinnati P.O Box 210068, Cincinnati, OH, 45221-0068 - United States of America 45221


Problem-solving, Instructional strategy, Teaching strategy, Elementary school

Kanekar AS, Sharma M. Instructional Strategies for Developing Problem Solving Skills Among Upper Elementary School-Children- A Theory-Based Approach. WebmedCentral BEHAVIOUR 2012;3(3):WMC003137
doi: 10.9754/journal.wmc.2012.003137

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License(CC-BY), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
Submitted on: 05 Mar 2012 03:22:38 AM GMT
Published on: 05 Mar 2012 01:32:49 PM GMT


Developing problem-solving skills is an essential competency for sustaining emotional and mental health among children. These skills are also used as a part of various intervention programs aimed at depression prevention, substance abuse prevention and safer sex promotion in youths and adolescents. The purpose of this article was to portray an instructional strategy for developing problem-solving skills among school kids. The target audience for this teaching strategy is sixth-grade students at any elementary school.
Key words: Problem-solving, Instructional strategy, Teaching strategy, Elementary school


The competency to develop problem solving skills among children is an essential skill required for mental development. When this is established, it helps children make informed decisions about their health and act upon them in a social-ecological context [1]. Problem-solving skills are also, an important component of school readiness among children, which leads to academic success, stemming from effectively managing emotions and behaviors [2]. Emotional health is closely related to mental health and stress levels, as is well established [3] and hence the emphasis of developing and sustaining problem-solving skills for positive youth development programs [4].
As mentioned earlier, an intricate relationship between emotional health, mental health, stress levels and depression exists. This was examined closely among high-school students and results indicated that a) emotional repair was positively related to self-esteem, b) emotional intelligence was negatively related to levels of depression and anxiety [5]. Problem solving skills can be developed using intervention programs based on social skills training [6], and social emotional development [7] which in turn help in prevention of depression and stable mental health in the long-run [8].
Problem-solving skills are a part of various intervention programs aimed at depression prevention in youths and adolescents and include skills such as assertiveness training, negotiation, decision-making and relaxation [9]. These skills can be developed by including parents in the social and emotional skill developing process of a multilevel family-focused intervention strengthening parent-child interaction [10].
A school-curriculum that incorporates problem-based learning can help augment scientific thinking, problem solving skills and conflict resolution skills [11] and can be a strategy for depression prevention among school-kids especially those coming from socioeconomically disadvantaged schools [12] and diverse cultures [13].
The aim of the current manuscript is to portray an instructional strategy for developing problem-solving skills among school kids. The authors believe that such a strategy can be applied in diverse school settings with a favorable result in developing problem-solving skills and thus reducing stress, preserving and promoting emotional health and preventing long-term depression among school kids. The purpose of this manuscript is to discuss and present in details some of the teaching techniques and learning methods used in the form of two different interventions in a sample target audience of sixth-grade students at an elementary school in Midwest.
The overall objectives for using teaching strategies in the experimental intervention group was a) to explain stress, stressors and problem solving skills, b) provide problem solving steps with examples and also c) to provide problem solving practice skills.
The overall objectives for using teaching strategies in the knowledge based intervention group was to develop knowledge among 80% of participating sixth-grade students about different type of stressors, b) effects of stress on the individual(body, mind) and community, c) ways to deal with stress and d) problem


The teaching strategy used for developing problem solving skills consisted of three -session modules for sixth graders who were the participants. The learning objectives for the first session consisted of a) defining the terms stress, stressor and problem solving, b) listing some common stressors affecting school children of their age, c) identify some common stressors in their personal lives, d) explain the benefits of developing problem-solving skills and e) identify the benefits of problem solving skills in their personal lives. The objectives for the second session dealt with steps in problem solving steps such as a) apply some steps to deal with at least one common stressor, b) describing the importance of generating alternative solutions in dealing with the common stressor, c) describe the importance of thinking about advantages and disadvantages of dealing with the common stressor, d) describe the importance of choosing an appropriate solution in dealing with a common stressor e) identify ways their role models use problem solving in their personal lives and f) identify that all of them have the capability to use problem solving skills in their lives. The objectives for the third session highlighted practicing problem solving skills such as a) apply the steps of problem solving skills in dealing with a different stressor, b) describe the importance of self-reward in applying problem solving skills c) identifying some things they can give themselves after practicing these skills in real lives and d) give an example of how they can use problem-solving skills in a real-life situation.  The session details are shown in Illustration 1.
Teaching procedures:
The materials and resources used during the different sessions consisted of overhead projectors, teaching aid sheets and student activity sheets.
Assessment techniques:
The assessment conducted for these sessions, was in the form of a structured tally sheet with two observers carrying out the assessments independently.  The details of this tally sheet have been provided in Illustration 2.


The tally sheets that assessed the degree of fidelity of the session teaching strategy for developing problem-solving skills was completed by two raters. The results of the percentage of tally check marks for the sessions are presented in Illustration 3.


The purpose of this article was to portray a variety of teaching strategies for developing problem solving skills in a group of sixth-grade students at an elementary school in the Midwest region. A number of different teaching strategies were used such as brainstorming, teaching aides and assignment sheets, case scenarios and lectures with overhead projectors These techniques assisted the researcher in developing problem-solving skills and providing knowledge about stress and stressors to a group of sixth-grade children. Two independent raters evaluated these teaching sessions and for the most part were in agreement about the implementation of these strategies. The researchers believe that these strategies applied to sixth-graders in a Midwestern school can be generalized to any other school in the nation with favourable results.


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3. Ciarrochi, J., Scott, G., Deane, F.P., & Heaven, P. (2003). Relations between social and emotional competence and mental health: a construct validation study. Personality and Individual Differences, 35, 1947-1963.
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2 reviews posted so far

Highly Recommend
Posted by Dr. Janea Snyder on 04 Sep 2012 01:40:40 AM GMT

Hi Matthew, Thanks for reviewing this article... View more
Responded by Dr. Amar S Kanekar on 04 Apr 2012 01:52:43 AM GMT

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