Developing problem solving leadership: A cognitive approach

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46 Scopus citations


The difficulty and complexity of today's problems, in their catalytic progression, mandate the need for engineers who are both advanced problem solvers and leaders within their profession. Their knowledge and skill must extend beyond the traditional technical subjects to an understanding of problem solvers themselves, alone and in teams, and to the facilitation of those teams-a task that demands even more insight and practical expertise. This paper describes a cognitive framework for problem solving (founded on Kirton's Adaption-Innovation theory) that supports this view, and the new curriculum based upon that framework that was initiated and developed at Penn State University to help address these needs. The curriculum is composed of a core module of three courses that focus on fundamental concepts and principles of problem solving, progressing from the individual problem solver to problem solving teams and culminating in problem solving leadership. Several supporting courses are also offered or are under development (including courses on invention and problem solving ethics), and additional enhancements (including on-line delivery) are underway. The design, implementation, and evaluation of this program are discussed here, as well as our exploration and testing of the underlying theory based on the assessment of students' problem solving styles.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)936-954
Number of pages19
JournalInternational Journal of Engineering Education
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 6 2008

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education
  • Engineering(all)


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