Problem solving

Come up with problems that students will solve while taking your course.

Amy Peterson avatar
Written by Amy Peterson
Updated over a week ago

During the course design phase, it is necessary to write a list of ideas for problems that the students will encounter in the course. Don't worry about whether they are good or bad ideas, and don't worry about the order. Filtering and sorting come later. Try to come up with a list of at least four or five problems to solve. This list helps to divide the course up into chapters later on. That said, some courses do have a single overarching problem to solve, and other courses have a dozen problems. Read on for some tips and tricks.

Add references

If you come across good ideas, make a note of where you found those ideas to reference in your course.

Be exhaustive

Don't be afraid to list bad ideas: it's better to have too many ideas at this stage than too few. One trick is to keep listing items until they start to get silly. You can include these items to ensure that you Curriculum Manager is concentrating when they review your work.

I can't think of any ideas

  • If you know what technology you want to use, try reading the documentation for it.

  • Read through the contents pages of books on the subject. Amazon's "Look inside" feature is useful for this.

  • Check Stack Overflow to see what questions people are asking about the topic.


From a course on generalized additive models:

  • How to use Generalized Additive Models to understand relationships between variables in data and make predictions.

From a course on fraud detection:

  • How to identify and predict fraudulent transactions

  • How to effectively work with highly imbalanced data

From a course on human resource analytics:

  • How to compare high- and low-performing groups (see Work Rules! pages 201, 343)

  • How to identify the most effective recruiting channel (how does this generalize?)

  • How to determine what's driving (attrition, high/low performance, etc.)

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