Case Study IV: Instructor Professional Dev.

The Client

The center for pedagogy in an undergraduate engineering college in Israel.

The Problem

Three years ago, the college developed and implemented a new voluntary program for training instructors in non-traditional teaching methods. An insufficient number of instructors enroll in the program and the retention rate is unacceptably low for college administration. Many instructors perceive the program as unnecessary, financially unrewarding, and portraying their present quality of teaching in a bad light.

The Problem-Solving Team

The team consisted of five participants, all members of the center for pedagogy in the college: the head of the center (an industrial engineer), the head of the training program (an electrical engineer), a lecturer on non-technical skills (educational psychologist), a senior lecturer in industrial engineering, and a junior lecturer in electrical engineering.

The Process

Stage 1. Construct Problem Core Model

Based on preparation conducted by the Project Director for New Immigrants with the inventor of the SNAP Method, the team constructed a conceptual model representing the core of the problem.

Stage 2. Formulate Usefulness Criteria

Based on preparation conducted by the Project Director for New Immigrants with the inventor of the SNAP Method, the team came up with three criteria to evaluate solution ideas, with the following weightings: (1) 0.30 – regulatory/accreditation feasibility, (2) 0.30 – attractiveness for potential candidates, (3) 0.15 – cost of development and implementation, (4) 0.15 – level of exposure to potential candidates, and (5) 0.10 – time to implementation.

Stage 3. Generate Original Ideas

The team carried out four exercises for facilitating creative thinking by reconfiguring each participant's mental model of the problem. Each participant generated two original ideas per exercise – a total of six ideas per participant and 64 ideas overall.

Stage 4. Refine Ideas for Usefulness

For each one of the 30 ideas, the team identified a core solution concept, generating six solution concepts in total:

1. Management

2. Marketing

3. Positive reinforcement

4. Negative reinforcement

5. Program pedagogy

6. Target audience

Multiple ideas from the same solution concept were combined into one or two ideas and refined them for usefulness based on the criteria formulated at Stage 2. This process resulted in six combined ideas.

Stage 5. Rank Refined Ideas by Usefulness

Each participant individually scored the six combined ideas, criterion by criterion. Scores for each idea were averaged across participants, and the combined ideas were then ranked according to their averaged overall usefulness score. The two top scoring ideas were selected as having potential for pilot projects. The entire process took seven hours.

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Rea Lavi, PhD

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Statements of fact and opinions expressed are those of Rea Lavi and, unless expressly stated to the contrary, are only his views and positions and not that of any other institution or person.

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