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The Creative Problem Finding Hierarchy: A Suggested Model for Understanding Problem Finding

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Abstract

This paper proposes a new hierarchy (model), which hopefully will allow researchers in this field to differentiate between the different levels of problem finding (PF). It has been found that at least 13 different terms have been used to describe the process of finding a problem. Some of these terms have been used interchangeably in previous research, even within the same work(s). Only a few articles distinguish between those terms. Although no clear distinction has been made among the terms in the PF literature regarding possible differences and which labels could be studied empirically, the present effort suggests that there might be important differences which could be explained by how well- or ill-defined the problem is, and the degree to which ideation and evaluation are required. Based on these two criteria, a rubric is presented here and should allow distinctions to be made among the terms. This paper concludes by suggesting that one term (i.e., problem finding) is to be used to avoid confusion. If this is not possible, for whatever reason, the term used instead should be defined and the reasons for the choice of terms clearly stated.
Ahmed M. Abdulla
Arabian Gulf University
Bonnie Cramond
University of Georgia
The Creative Problem Finding Hierarchy: A Suggested Model for
Understanding Problem Finding
The Creative Problem Finding Hierarchy: A Suggested Model for
Understanding Problem Finding
–Mackworth 1965, p. 51
Most people are quite clear by now that there are real differences
between scientists who are largely solving problems and those who
are mainly raising questions.”
OUTLINE
- PF in Models of the Creative Process
- Different Kinds of Problems
- Terms Used in PF Literature
- Possible Differences between the Terms
- The Problem Finding Hierarchy
- Limitations and Future Directions
The Creative Problem Finding Hierarchy: A Suggested Model for
Understanding Problem Finding
PF IN MODELS OF THE CREATIVE PROCESS
- Dewey (1910): Perceiving a difficulty and Locating or defining the
problem
- Wallas (1926): Preparation
- Merrifield et al. (1962): Preparation, or problem recognition
- Parnes (1967): Fact finding, Problem finding, and Idea finding
- Newell and Simon (1972): Generation of a problem statement
- Mumford et al. (1991): Problem definition
- Amabile (1996): Problem or task identification
- Basadur and Basadur (2011): Generation (Problem finding and Fact
finding)
DIFFERENT KINDS OF PROBLEMS
-Well vs. Ill-Defined Problems (Pretz, Naples, & Sternberg, 2003)
-Presented vs. Discovered Problems (Getzels, 1975)
-Problem Recognition vs. Problem Discovery vs. Problem Invention
(Dillon, 1988)
DIFFERENT KINDS OF PROBLEMS
TERMS USED IN PF LITERATURE
0
25
50
75
100
PF
PP
PC
PF
PG
PI
PR
HF
POSSIBLE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN THE
TERMS
It is no longer sufficient to simply refer to problem finding, and assume
that we are talking about one process or skill (Runco, 1994, p. 281,
emphasis added).
POSSIBLE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN THE
TERMS
-It is apparent that researchers in some fields, specifically mathematics
and science prefer to use particular terms to describe PF (i.e., problem
posing in mathematics; hypotheses formulation in science).
-Few researchers explicitly distinguished between some of those terms.
For example, Runco and Chand (1994) distinguished between problem
identification and problem definition. Moreover, Basadur and Basadur
(2011) distinguished between problem generation (the first stage) and
problem conceptualization (the second stage)
THE PROBLEM-FINDING HIERARCHY
-Based on
-1) Getzels’ 10 types of problems (Getzels, 1982)
-2) Basadurs optimal ideation-evaluation theory (Basadur, 1995)
-3) and on a few other works, which suggest that there are subtle
differences between some of the terms (e.g. Basadur & Basadur, 2011;
Runco & Chand, 1994)
THE PROBLEM-FINDING HIERARCHY
-The PFH suggests that there might be some important differences
between five PF processes: problem discovery, problem formulation,
problem construction, problem identification, and problem definition
based upon two dimensions:
-1) to what degree the problem is ill-defined
-2) to what degree ideation and evaluation are required in each process
THE PROBLEM-FINDING HIERARCHY
Problem Discovery (PD1)
-In the case of Problem Discovery, only ideation might be required. The
absence of evaluation in PD1 is due to the fact that the problem has not
yet been formulated. In other words, there is nothing to be evaluated at
this level of PF.
-PD1 is an unconscious process and that no information is given about
the problem.
THE PROBLEM-FINDING HIERARCHY
Problem Formulation (PF)
-Represents the case in which the problem also does not yet exist, but it
can be conceived through some given information
-Another feature that distinguishes PF from PD1 is that an individual has
some kind of awareness or feeling that something needs to be done,
although he or she is not sure about the method that should be used or
the outcome.
-Both ideation and evaluation are needed in the PF process, but ideation
might be more important in the PF stage than evaluation
THE PROBLEM-FINDING HIERARCHY
Problem Construction (PC)
-In the PC case, the problem exists but needs to be constructed in a new
form.
-The problem finder is aware of the problem and has some information
regarding how the problem might be constructed.
-Ideation and evaluation might be equally important in the PC process.
THE PROBLEM-FINDING HIERARCHY
Problem Identification (PI)
-Problem exists but remains to be identified by the problem finder.
-In the PI case, the problem finder has good information about the
problem he or she encounters.
-Evaluation might be more important in the PI stage than ideation.
THE PROBLEM-FINDING HIERARCHY
Problem Definition (PD2)
-Refers to the problem that already exists but needs to be defined
through using some evaluative skills
-Evaluation is more prominent than ideation.
THE PROBLEM-FINDING HIERARCHY
Problem Definition (PD2)
SUMMARY AND LIMITATIONS
1. There are different kinds and levels of the PF (e.g. Getzles, 1982),
2. Evaluative skills must to be considered in studying PF (e.g. Runco &
Chand, 1994),
3. The ratio of ideation-evaluation may differ in each PF process (e.g.
Basadur, 1995), and
4. PF should not be considered as a single process; instead, there is a family
of PF processes (Runco, 1994).
SUMMARY AND LIMITATIONS
1. is an active process, which results from the interaction of metacognitive,
cognitive, affective, motivational, and environmental elements;
2. is a conscious process, and consciousness plays an important role in all
problem-finding processes. It is only in the PD1 process that subconscious
processing may also play an important role;
3. the creative problem solving is not a linear process. PF processes could
be found in different creative problem solving steps, not only at the
beginning of the creative problem solving process.
The CPF hierarchy is built on several assumptions about problem solving,
especially problem finding. These assumptions are that PF
SUMMARY AND LIMITATIONS
1. There is some uncertainty about the processes. They are, after all, not
easily observable and, like most cognitive operations, must be inferred
2. The CPF hierarchy should thus be viewed as a new guide that needs to be
refined as more data are collected
3. The hierarchy outlined here is offered as a guide and impetus to further
research on PF and to more refine investigations of the PF processes, but
there is much work left to be done to refine it, test it, extend it, and apply it
References
Basadur, M., & Basadur, T. (2011). Where are the generators? Psychology of
Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts, 5(1), 29-42.
Basadur, M. (1995). Optimal ideation-evaluation ratios. Creativity Research
Journal, 8(1), 63-75.
Dillon, J. T. (1988). Levels of problem finding vs. problem solving. Questioning
Exchange, 2(2), 105-115.
Getzels, J. W. (1975). Problem-finding and the inventiveness of solutions. Journal
of Creative Behavior, 9(1), 12-18.
Getzels, J. W. (1982). The problem of the problem. In R. Hogarth (Ed.), New
directions for methodology of social and behavioral science: Question framing
(pp. 37-49). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Mackworth, N. H. (1965). Originality. American Psychologist, 20(1), 51-66.
References
Pretz, J. E., Naples, A. J., & Sternberg, R. J. (2003). Recognizing, defining, and
representing problems. In J. E. Davidson & R. J. Sternberg (Eds.), The
psychology of problem solving (pp. 3-30). New York: Cambridge University
Press.
Runco, M. A. (1994). Conclusions concerning problem finding, problem solving,
and creativity. In M. A. Runco (Ed.), Problem finding, problem solving, and
creativity (pp. 272–290). Norwood, NJ: Ablex.
Runco, M. A., & Chand, I. (1994). Problem finding, evaluative thinking, and
creativity. In M. A. Runco (Ed.), Problem finding, problem solving, and
creativity (pp. 40-76). Westport, CT, US: Ablex Publishing.
Article
Full-text available
This paper proposes a model, which hopefully will allow researchers in the psychology of creativity to confirm that the different levels and different labels for problem finding can be unified under one construct – problem finding (PF). Although no clear distinctions are made among the levels and terms used in the PF literature, the current efforts suggest that there are important differences that can be explained by (a) how well- or ill-defined a problem is, and (b) the degree to which ideation and evaluation are required. Based on these two criteria, a rubric is presented that allows distinctions to be made among five the PF processes: (a) problem discovery, (b) problem formulation, (c) problem construction, (d) problem identification, and (e) problem definition. The authors examined the literature on PF in English from 1960 to 2015 using the following databases: (a) Academic Search Premier, (b) PsycARTICLES, (c) PsycINFO, (d) Dissertation Abstract, (e) Educational Resources Information Center (ERIC), (f) Psychology & Behavioral Science Collection, and (g) the Google Scholar. This search resulted in 199 articles in which at least 13 different terms were used to describe the process of finding a problem. Only a few articles endeavored to distinguish among the terms used in the literature. This paper concludes by suggesting that one term (i.e., problem finding) is to be used to avoid confusion. If this is not possible, for whatever reason, the term used instead should be defined and the reasons for the choice of terms clearly stated.
Article
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The theory that different ideation-evaluation (I-E) ratios are optimal for creative problem solving in different fields of endeavor in organizations is presented. Preliminary field data (n = 622), which support the theory, are reported. As predicted, higher I-E ratios were found for work classified as more problem finding in nature, such as research; lower ratios were found for work classified as more solution implementation in nature, such as manufacturing; moderate ratios in-between were found for work classified as more problem solving in nature, such as nonprofit organization administration. Implications for training and for increasing the understanding of innovation in organizations are discussed.
Article
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Organizational creativity is presented as four distinctly different sequential stages of a dynamic cognitive creative problem solving process: generation, conceptualization, optimization, and implementation. The generation stage is the activity that initiates the creative process. It is disruptive, because it entails proactively and deliberately seeking and discovering brand new problems and opportunities. Often called opportunity finding, generation results from restless discontent with the status quo. This activity is different from the second stage, conceptualization, which other researchers have previously described as problem construction, identification, or formulation. Such second stage activity gives definition to a newly discovered problem freshly emerging from the first stage or to a presented or otherwise already existing problem. We provide research showing that the people who prefer the generation stage activity (generators) are underrepresented in industrial and business organizations and are likely to be found in occupations normally found outside such organizations, for example, artists, writers, designers, teachers, and academic institutions. We argue that organizations seeking increased creativity and innovation could do so by understanding and recognizing the contributions made by people preferring the generator style, and by making generator activity more attractive for all members of the organization. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
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metacognitive skills / intrapersonal and interpersonal evaluations / valuation investments and subjectivity / socialization (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
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Outlines a concept of how problems are formulated and the role of the formulation of problems in their solution. Presented problems are distinguished from discovered problems. A model is developed in which problems are differentiated according to whether their formulation, method of solution, and solution are known to the individual attempting to solve them, or to others. Three types of problems are examined. Illustrations are presented of the relationship between the formulation of a problem and its solution. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
The problem of the problem
  • J W Getzels
Getzels, J. W. (1982). The problem of the problem. In R. Hogarth (Ed.), New directions for methodology of social and behavioral science: Question framing (pp. 37-49). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Conclusions concerning problem finding, problem solving, and creativity
  • M A Runco
Runco, M. A. (1994). Conclusions concerning problem finding, problem solving, and creativity. In M. A. Runco (Ed.), Problem finding, problem solving, and creativity (pp. 272-290). Norwood, NJ: Ablex.