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Archer, A., & Hughes, C. (2011). Explicit instruction: Effective and efficient teaching. New York, NY: The Guilford Press. Retrieved from

These authors are educators and educational researchers focusing on K-12 instructional techniques.  Chapter 1 of this book lays out the elements of explicit instruction, which focuses on teaching in small steps to ensure all students proceed at the same level.  Several of these elements describe useful mechanisms of how to demonstrate problem solving to students so they can master the steps, then build the skill.  The emphases on student-teacher interactions and regular assessment may provide a framework for developing an approach to creative problem solving.


Bogard, T., Liu, M., & Chiang, Y. (2013). Thresholds of knowledge development in complex problem solving: a multiple-case study of advanced learners' cognitive processes. Education Tech Research Dev, 61, 465-503. doi: 10.1007/s447/5-013-9295-4

This research paper describes cognitive tools used by learners and describes a model of complex probelm solving, with  "bottom-up" approach where students of differing abilities showed thresholds of knowledge development that described their ability to approach and solve problems.  These thresholds included prodecural, structural, executive, an argument operations.  The model focused on the skills at each level and on self-regulatory ability.  This model could provide a structured approach to assessing student ability and developing their skills across those thresholds.  The techniques used in the paper may also be applicable to study design.


DeHaan, R. (2009). Teaching creativity and inventive problem solving in science. CBE-Life Sciences Education, 8, 172-181. doi: 10.1187/cbe.08-12-0081

This essay discusses the goal of teaching creative problem solving and addresses the issues of instruction and assessment.  The author argues that creativity is not a single skill, but a set of skills that can be linked to other cognitive skill development during instruction.  Innovation and inventiveness are components of cognitive skills that can be separately fostered through formative and summative feedback.  Connections to critical thinking and the scientific process and discusion of how to modify current teaching practice is also included, as well as numerous useful citations.


Hartley, L., Wilke, B., Schramm, J., D'Avanzo, C., & Anderson, C. (2011). College students' understanding of the carbon cycle: contrasting principle-based and informal reasoning. BioScience, 61(1), 65-75. doi: 10.1525/bio.2011.61.1.12

This research paper describes an approach to instruction that uses principle-based learning, where students are instructed in material explicitly identifying the principles behind given examples and then assessed on their ability to use those principles to solve new problems.  The assessment differentiated between principle based and informal reasoning based on personal experience. A large component in the model described by Bogard et al 2013 includes orienting and planning how to solve a problem, then seeking information, then applying prior knowledge, each a separate threshold.  The principles upon which science is founded must be bedrock knowledge that students understand and use in their problem solving, so to see that most do not (87% prior to principles based instruction and 72% after) is disheartening.  The article describes a framework for principle based instruction and assessment approaches that can identify the use or lack thereof of principles in student responses.


Shadle, S., Brown, E., Towns, M., & Warner, D. (2012). A rubric for assessing students' experimental problem-solving ability. Journal of Chemical Education, 89, 319-325. doi: 10.1012/ed200007041

This research paper describes a rubric used to assess students across chemistry program that measures multiple problem-solving criteria.  This rubric could be a starting point to development of a creative problem solving rubric to be used in our program.  An interesting finding was students could correctly solve the problems before they could articulate why, which the authors describe as possibly the normal pattern of skill development or a possible lapse in their instruction.  Hartley et al 2011 showed that principle-based learning is not a low order skill and has to replace informal thinking, so the findings of this study may reflect that as well.

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