Real Engagement in Active Problem Solving (REAPS)

Updated: Jun 26, 2020

This model is an integration of four teaching models with demonstrated effectiveness that have problem solving as a common element. All provide different components of the overall approach. This model is the key component in the development of creativity and innovation.

Problem-Based Learning (PBL) was developed and used for many years in medical schools as a way to focus students on real-life problems they would face when practicing medicine. Because of its promise in other educational settings, it has been used extensively at all levels of education and in academic and non-academic contexts. Its contribution to the REAPS model is in the selection of real-life problems and the design of stakeholder groups as a way to structure the group problem solving experiences.

Thinking Actively in a Social Context (TASC), is a process model that was developed by two public school personnel from the UK who were working in South Africa with students and schools facing racial, poverty, integration, and other social challenges. The model provided a way for students and community groups to follow a step-by-step process to gather and organize information, identify a challenge or task, generate ideas, decide which ideas are best, implement the ideas, evaluate their strengths and weaknesses, communicate these ideas and solutions to an audience, and learn from experience. Because the model is structured as a wheel, it demonstrates the reality of problem-solving processes in that the problem solver(s) often need to return to earlier steps even though the general progression is around the circle.

In the Prism of Learning model, the passion for solving a problem or meeting a challenge is the white light coming into one side of the prism. That white light refracts into primary colors that symbolize general capacities such as creativity, memory, intuition, metacognition, and reasoning/logic. Secondary colors coming out of the prism symbolize 10 specific abilities that are activated by the passion for the challenge or problem: auditory/sound, bodily/somatic, emotional/intrapersonal, linguistic, mathematical, mechanical-technical, moral/ethical/spiritual, scientific, social/interpersonal, and visual/spatial. The main contribution of this model to REAPS is in its emphasis on the varied abilities that need to be respected and developed during the problem-solving process and development of products.

DISCOVER is a model in which the emphasis is on identifying multiple strengths of individuals and providing a strength-based approach to the development of those abilities. The curriculum principles include (a) focusing on interdisciplinary themes (“big ideas”) as a way to integrate content from a variety of disciplines; (b) enabling students to self-select product formats; (c) solving a variety of types of problems ranging from those with right “answers” or solutions to those with no known correct or best solutions or answers; (d) active, hands-on learning; (e) group activities and choice; and (e) integrating the language(s) and culture(s) of the participants.

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