The Four Problem-Solvers

Are you a leader, dreamer, thinker, or guardian? Explore the four different problem-solving styles!
Ages 8-14 / 45
min Activity
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  • Identify their problem-solving style, and partner with a peer with a different style to discuss a set of scenarios together 
  • Foster an appreciation of different problem-solving styles
  • Recognize the role of empathy in resolving conflicts

Supporting Research

Empathy is linked to more prosocial behaviors, fostering our ability to navigate conflicts with compassion for others’ distress. During this activity, educators should encourage students to practice diplomacy as they discuss how to resolve conflicts with a sensitivity towards others’ emotions, while managing their own emotions as they discuss potential solutions with a peer who has a different perspective and problem-solving style than them. Students will also foster inclusivity as they recognize the value of including different perspectives during the problem-solving process. 

To learn more about these skills, and how they promote students’ healthy growth and the development of empathy, please check out our Empathy Framework.

Activity Partners

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  1. Begin the activity by introducing the four types of problem-solvers, which are:
    • The leader, who is quick to act and solves problems with enthusiasm and energy. 
    • The dreamer, who imagines all the different possibilities and comes up with a creative solution.
    • The thinker, who gathers and analyzes all the information before deciding on a solution.  
    • The guardian, who tries to understand others’ feelings so everyone will be happy with the solution. 

    Distribute a copy of “The Four Problem-Solvers” cards to each student. Ask them to reflect on how they generally approach conflicts, and identify which type of problem-solver seems most similar to them. 
  2. Once students have identified their problem-solver type, they should hold up their card and try to find someone who chose a different type than them. 
  3. Provide each pair with a set of the “Problem-Solving Scenarios”, and ask them to discuss how they would approach each problem. (alternative link: Pop Culture Scenarios)

    As students come up with their solutions, encourage them to also discuss how each person in the scenario might feel, and how they can use their problem-solving style to come up with a solution that is considerate of everyone’s feelings. 
  4. After students have finished their discussion, ask each pair to share about a problem that they solved in different ways, and describe the process that they used to come up with their solution. 
  5. Finally, engage students in a reflection by asking the following questions: 
    • How was your solution to a problem different from your partner’s solution? Were there any similarities between your solutions? 
    • How did it feel to discuss the scenarios with someone who had a different problem-solving style than you?
    • What strengths did you notice in your partner’s problem-solving style? What did you like about the way they solved one of the problems? 
    • When we are trying to solve a problem, why is it important to consider everyone’s feelings?
    • What did you learn about the way that other people approach problems? How can understanding (and even combining) different problem-solving styles help us find better solutions? 

If students in both classes have individual devices (e.g., mobile phone, tablet, laptop, etc.)...

Use a platform such as Google Meet, Zoom, or Microsoft Teams which allows you to screen-share during a video call. 
One educator should set up the Kahoot! game and share the code with students in both classes by following this tutorial about using Kahoot! in a remote learning environment, and share their screen so everyone can follow along.

If students in either class don’t have individual devices...

Follow the same instructions above, with one educator starting the game and sharing their screen so both classes can follow along.  
Instead of students joining the game to answer the questions, they can hold up their fingers, call out their answer, or use a paper template to indicate their response.

If you prefer not using Kahoot!...

Use this document (Spanish version) to prompt students.