We have created a new course (based on the “Puzzle-Based Learning” book) that focuses on getting students to think about framing and solving unstructured problems. We believe that the course is based on the best traditions introduced by Gyorgy Polya and Martin Gardner during the last 60 years.
The course can be offered as a full semester course or as a unit – part of an introductory course (e.g. Introduction to Engineering, or Introduction to Business). The course follows the text: each week in the semester (for a full semester course) or each single lecture (in the unit version of the course) corresponds to one chapter of the book. Thus during each of the first three lectures a single problem-solving rule is discussed. During the following eight lectures various aspects of problem-solving are covered, such as handling constraints, optimization, probability, statistics, simulations, pattern recognition, and strategy. The remaining lectures of the semester – usually from two to three weeks are used for various assignments, discussion on homework, or group activities. Furthermore, this part of the course can be modified to suit the specialization of students.
To enhance student engagement and participation, many of the assignments can be based on software versions of some puzzles and provided to students in the form of serious games. For example, students can experiment with a statistical method of estimating the number of fish in a lake, discovering the best strategy for finding the egg-breaking floor in a high building, or estimating the probability of throwing one “six” while rolling six dice…
The course is applicable to a large variety of colleges (faculties), including engineering, science, business, law, and health, as well as corporations that would like to develop problem-solving skills in their employees, managers, and executives.
Finally, power-point slides and other teaching materials are available on request.