Learning

creative-problem-solving-learning-challenge

At a Glance

Discover more about learning the Future Problem Solving process

Our Learning program supports teachers with resources to integrate components of our multidisciplinary Future Problem Solving method into their classroom curriculum.

Grades K-12

Our robust collection of competition programs provides a wealth of curricular resources for students in grades 4-12. In addition, simplified concepts and guidance in the writing of ideas give primary level students in grades K-3 and early secondary students a jump start on gaining important critical and creative thinking skills.

Action-Based Problem Solving

Our Learning program offers pathways to explore real world issues and our proven 6-step problem-solving process as well as engage interest in futuristic thinking in a non-competitive setting.

Education Standards

Since our programs align with a wide variety of education standards, teachers can easily tailor Future Problem Solving content to meet their ​​specific education system and local requirements as needed.

Authentic Assessment

Our standard-based and skill-based evaluation guides help teachers assess student learning and monitor progress. We also support educators in giving meaningful feedback to inspire growth. Often we provide both formative and summative authentic assessment opportunities.

How It Works

Teachers use our materials to meet students where and how they learn

Our interdisciplinary program provides teachers with standards-based and skill-based resources to meaningfully engage students while building knowledge and skills. To meet their students where and how they learn to think, teachers often utilize our competition program materials for their own needs:

  • With a few students or the entire class
  • With teachers or students recording the ideas generated
  • With teacher guidance or as independent work
  • In the classroom or at home

We take connecting with a wide variety of education standards into account when developing and updating our program materials. This focus gives schools and teachers flexibility to tailor our content to meet their specific governing body and school system requirements. Students who learn from home can also participate in our Learning activities with the help of a teacher, parent, or mentor. Together we are expanding the way young people learn the problem-solving skills they need to succeed in work and life.

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Our Programs

Explore our programs to find the best fits for your classroom

Teachers often utilize the competition program materials found in our Topics Center, Resources Library, and store for their own classroom needs.

Global Issues

Integrate Global Issues topics, future scenes, and problem-solving steps into your classroom as standalone activities for content areas or teach the 6-step problem-solving process as part of a full curriculum. Some regional affiliates offer registration options that enable teachers to submit students’ work for non-competitive evaluation twice during the school year for specific future scenes.

Community Projects

Apply elements of Community Projects whether or not your students intend to implement a project. Teach the basics of problem solving through community issues research and project proposal writing, use scaffolding to support content areas of inquiry, or engage students in project-based learning (PBL) with short-term community projects. Students use service-learning standards throughout the Future Problem Solving process.

Creative Writing

Implement Creative Writing in any classroom at any time. Using topic prompts and research to support writing assignments builds college and career readiness skills while allowing a creative outlet. Our Guide to Scenario Writing provides teachers with helpful tools.

Storytelling

Provide students more opportunities to develop and practice creative thinking and public speaking skills beyond drama and speech programs. Storytelling offers teachers tools to honor the voices of more students using futuristic topic scenarios. Our topic prompts, topic research, and Guide to Scenario Writing support classroom activities.

Challenges

Designed for flexibility, our bite-sized, on-demand individual Challenges do not require any prior Future Problem Solving experience. They offer students an opportunity to quickly move through our 6-step problem-solving process to develop action plans.

The Future Problem Solving Experience

Offered at our International Conference each June, novice students (grades 4-12) attend an introductory workshop on Global Issues and the 6-step problem-solving process. They also gain access to all the non-competitive conference events and activities.

Why It Matters

Future-ready students

The skills problem solvers learn ensure they are ready to succeed in the classroom today and in their work and life tomorrow.
It’s the largest co-curricular program we have and it’s for one simple reason, it is true education. It embeds all the different skills we want in our students. We love Future Problem Solving. We think it takes every student whether it’s an average learner, a gifted learner, it takes them to an entirely different level in their learning.
dr-larry-taylor-testimonial
Larry Taylor, Ph.D.
Prestonwood Christian Academy
(Former Head of Schools)
I’ve seen kids come up with ideas that can only make scientists wonder ‘wow, should we try this?’ and yes, if they do, they’ll solve some of the problems of the world.
brenda-porter-testimonial
Brenda Porter
Johnson Central High School
(Academic Coach)
We want young people who know how to think, we want them to know what we think, and we also want them to know what they value.
stuart-davis-testimonial
Stuart Davis
St. Leonard’s College VIC
(Principal)

Resources Showcase

Find problem-solving tools

Explore ideas, tips, and resources for integrating Future Problem Solving into your classroom curriculum.

Categories List for Generating Ideas

Brainstorming & Focus Tool

Guide to Project Management

Community Projects Resource

Futures Wheel Graphic Organizer

Creative Thinking Tool

Education Standards

How Future Problem Solving connects to education standards

Our Future Problem Solving process fulfills a wide variety of education standards. We take connecting with these standards into account when developing and updating our program materials. In doing so, schools and teachers can easily tailor Future Problem Solving content to meet their ​​specific education system and local requirements as needed. Together we are expanding the way young people learn to think and gain the skills they need to succeed in work and life.

21st
Century

21st Century Learning

Students use the 5Cs of 21st Century Learning skills throughout the Future Problem Solving process: critical thinking, creativity, communications, collaboration, and caring.

AICE

Advanced International Certificate of Education

Future Problem Solving aligns with many Cambridge Advanced International Certificate of Education (AICE) class content areas. It also connects to the five Cambridge learner attributes (CLAs): confident, responsible, reflective, innovative, and engaged.

Common
Core

Common Core Standards for English Language Arts & Literacy

Future Problem Solving aligns with fulfillment of the English Language Arts and Literacy domain within the Common Core Standards including reading, writing, speaking and listening.

IB

International Baccalaureate Learner Profile

Future Problem Solving aligns with the 10 attributes of an International Baccalaureate (IB) Learner Profile: inquirer, thinker, caring, balanced, knowledgeable, open minded, risk taker, communicator, reflective, and principled.

ISTE

International Society for Technology in Education

Future Problem Solving aligns with the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) Standards competencies for learning in a global, interconnected, and constantly changing society: empowered learner, digital citizen, knowledge constructor, innovative designer, computational thinker, creative communicator, and global collaborator.

NAGC

Gifted Education Programming Standards

Future Problem Solving aligns with the National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC) Gifted Education Programming Standards to develop high-level curriculum, organize a dynamic classroom setting, and provide opportunities that will meet the needs of a diverse group of students with a wide range of gifts and talents.

NYLC

K-12 Service-Learning Standards for Quality Practice

Future Problem Solving Community Projects align with the National Youth Leadership Council (NYLC) K-12 Service-Learning Standards for Quality Practice. These eight standards represent service-learning best practices to ensure high-quality service-learning experiences that engage and empower youth to create positive change while developing academic and civic knowledge and skills.

PISA

Programme for International Student Assessment

Future Problem Solving aligns with the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA). The worldwide tests are designed to assess how well 15-year-olds, at the end of compulsory education, can apply their knowledge to real-life situations and can therefore fully participate in society. PISA is a project of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

STEM

STEM Learning

Every year new science and technology topics are developed for Future Problem Solving competitions and students use STEM learning skills such as critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity throughout the problem-solving process.

STEM Topics

Our real world topics are future-focused

Each year new Global Issues topics representing important challenges from business, civics, society, science, and technology are developed for our competitions. The topic-specific program materials include a learning unit and often an activity unit that may be purchased as standalone items. 

Antarctica

How can we balance between sustainably preserving and utilizing Antarctica to benefit humanity in the future?

Antibiotic Resistance

How might we mitigate any risks of antibiotic resistance while also protecting the health of all species in the future?

Future Problem Solving Students – A Five Year Study

(2016)

A Comparison of Reading and Mathematics Performance Between Students Participating in a Future Problem Solving Program and Nonparticipants

Data from the The Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment (MCA) was collected by Grandview Middle School and provided to Scholastic Testing Service, Inc. for statistical analysis.


Findings reported by Scholastic Testing Service, Inc. Performance data on the MCA was collected from 2010-2014 for students in grade 6 at Grandview Middle School in Mound, MN (Westonka Public School District). Students were identified as either FPS: students participating in a Future Problem Solving program, or Non-FPS: students not participating in the program. Summary statistics using Reading and Mathematics Scaled Scores were developed for each group of students by year and across years. To determine if the mean scores across the years were significantly different, t-tests were used. A Cohen’s d test was then performed to measure the effect of the size of the found differences.

In all cases, students participating in the Future Problem Solving Program performed significantly higher on the MCA in both areas of Mathematics and Reading.

Effects of Group Training in Problem-Solving Style on Future Problem-Solving Performance

(2017)

The Journal of Creative Behavior (JCB) of the Creative Education Foundation

Seventy-five participants from one suburban high school formed 21 teams with 3–4 members each for Future Problem Solving (FPS). Students were selected to participate in either the regular FPS or an enhanced FPS, where multiple group training activities grounded in problem-solving style were incorporated into a 9-week treatment period.

An ANCOVA procedure was used to examine the difference in team responses to a creative problem-solving scenario for members of each group, after accounting for initial differences in creative problem-solving performance, years of experience in FPS, and creative thinking related to fluency, flexibility, and originality. The ANCOVA resulted in a significant difference in problem-solving performance in favor of students in the treatment group (F(1, 57) = 8.21, p = .006, partial eta squared = .126, medium), while there were no significant differences in years of experience or creativity scores. This result led researchers to conclude that students in both groups had equivalent creative ability and that participation in the group activities emphasizing problem-solving style significantly contributed to creative performance.

In the comparison group, a total of 47% had scores that qualified for entry to the state competition. In contrast, 89% of the students in the treatment group had scores that qualified them for the state bowl. None of the teams from the comparison group qualified for the international competition, while two teams from the treatment group were selected, with one earning sixth place.

The results of this study suggest that problem-solving performance by team members can be improved through direct instruction in problem-solving style, particularly when there is a focus on group dynamics.

The Journal of Creative Behavior, Vol. 0, Iss. 0, pp. 1–12 © 2017 by the Creative Education Foundation, Inc. DOI: 10.1002/jocb.176

Future Problem Solving Program International—Second Generation Study

(2011)

“How important was Future Problem Solving in the development of your following skill sets?”

In 2011, a team of researchers from the University of Virginia submitted a report titled “Future Problem Solving Program International—Second Generation Study.” (Callahan, Alimin, & Uguz, 2012). The study, based on a survey, collected data from over 150 Future Problem Solving alumni to understand the impact of their participation in Future Problem Solving as students or volunteers.

 
Percentage of Alumni Rating Important and Extremely Important in Developing Skill Sets
  • 96% Look at the “Big Picture”
  • 93% Critical Thinking
  • 93% Teamwork and Collaboration
  • 93% Identify and Solve Problems
  • 93% Time Management
  • 90% Researching
  • 90% Evaluation and Decision Making
  • 86% Creativity and Innovation
  • 86% Written Communication
 
The report captured alumni’s positive experiences as students in Future Problem Solving and documented that the alumni continued to utilize the FPS-structured approach to solving problems in their adult lives.

Evaluation of the Future Problem Solving Program

(2011)

Data was obtained from 220 coaches, 633 students, 195 parents, and 34 affiliate directors nationally and internationally

The Center for Creative Learning, USA (Treffinger, Selby, and Crumel) completed an international evaluation of Future Problem Solving including three competitive programs (Global Issues, Community Projects, and Creative Writing). Surveys ascertained 1,082 respondents’ views of: the extent to which Future Problem Solving and its programs meet their stated goals, the strengths of the programs and areas for improvement, and the impact of the program on its participants.

All respondents with current experience participating in each program rated a comprehensive list of 11-12 skills using a 5-point Likert scale. The adult groups identified the impact on participating students’ learning and growth, and the students identified what skills their participation helped them with the most.

 
Top 5 Most Impactful Skills Identified by Program

GLOBAL ISSUES

Adults – Coaches and Affiliate Directors (151)

  • Learning about complex issues that will shape the future (4.60)
  • Developing teamwork and collaboration, working together and cooperating with each other (4.39)
  • Fostering critical thinking (the ability to sort and sift information or to focus one’s thinking) (4.29)
  • Developing an active interest in the future (4.29)
  • Developing the skills needed to manage time effectively (4.02)

 

Students (242)

  • Learning about topics that will have important effects on the future. (4.14)
  • Working together and cooperating with others (4.13)
  • Thinking of many different and unusual ideas (3.99)
  • Helping become a better leader (3.90)
  • Deciding on the best solution to a problem (3.87)

 

COMMUNITY PROJECTS

Adults – Coaches and Affiliate Directors (64)

  • Enhancing the skills of preparing and delivering materials and/or presentations that communicate ideas effectively (4.76)
  • Developing teamwork and collaboration (working together, cooperating with each other)(4.56)
  • Developing leadership skills (4.56)
  • Showing evidence that team members are able to apply FPS skills in other situations (4.30)
  • Developing the skills needed to manage time effectively (4.27)

 

Students (107)

  • Working together and cooperating with others (4.33)
  • Feeling that I can make a difference in shaping the future (4.13)
  • Deciding on the best solution to a problem (4.07)
  • Helping me become a better leader (3.97)
  • Thinking of many different and unusual ideas (3.96)

 

CREATIVE WRITING

Adults – Coaches and Affiliate Directors (82)

  • Enhancing and expanding writing skills (4.39)
  • Developing an active interest in the future (4.11)
  • Learning about complex issues that will shape the future (4.10)
  • Thinking and researching futuristically (4.06)
  • Fostering creative thinking (the ability to generate many, varied, and unusual options (3.98)

 

Students (146)

  • Thinking and researching futuristically (4.08)
  • Developing better writing skills (4.05)
  • Learning about topics that will have important effects on the future (3.99)
  • Thinking of many different and unusual ideas (3.92)
  • Finding information in many different places (3.69)

 

Note, 88% of parents were satisfied with the Future Problem Solving program their youngster(s) participated in and a majority of parents with eligible students anticipated a high level of interest in participating again next year (60.9%).

Alumni Top 5 Most Impactful Skills on Their Development

A group of 48 alumni also responded to surveys focused on their past experiences and the impact those experiences had on their development into adulthood. Approximately 8 in 10 reported Future Problem Solving was very helpful or extremely helpful in secondary school (81%), in academic work after high school (78%), and in other life experiences outside school or academic work (81%). Looking back on their experience, the aspects below were rated the five most important and valuable.

  • Learning ways to think of many different and unusual ideas (4.75)
  • Learning how to choose the best solution for a problem (4.42)
  • Learning how to work or collaborate with others (4.41)
  • Developing better writing skills (4.36)
  • Learning a specific process for solving problems (4.35)
 
Results indicated strong overall satisfaction with Future Problem Solving among all stakeholder groups, as well as evidence of positive impact on academic and real-life accomplishments and personal relationships.

 

5-point Likert scale:
Adults: 1 = Little or no impact, 2 = Limited impact, 3 = Moderate impact, 4 = High impact, 5 = Exceptional impact
Students: 1= Hasn’t helped me at all, 2 = Helped me just a little, 3 = Helped me = “Okay”, 4 = Helped me quite a bit, 5= Really a great help to me
Alumni: 1=Not Important, 2=Of Little Importance, 3=Somewhat Important, 4=Very Important, 5=Extremely Important

April Michele

April Michele Bio

Executive Director

A seasoned educator, April Michele has served as the Executive Director since 2018 and been with Future Problem Solving more than a decade. Her background in advanced curriculum strategies and highly engaging learning techniques translates well in the development of materials, publications, training, and marketing for the organization and its global network. April’s expertise includes pedagogy and strategies for critical and creative thinking and providing quality educational services for students and adults worldwide.

Prior to joining Future Problem Solving, April taught elementary and middle grades, spending most of her classroom career in gifted education. She earned the National Board certification (NBPTS) as a Middle Childhood/Generalist and later served as a National Board assessor for the certification of others. In addition, April facilitated the Theory and Development of Creativity course for the state of Florida’s certification of teachers. She has also collaborated on a variety of special projects through the Department of Education. Beyond her U.S. education credentials, she has been trained for the International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme (MYP) in Humanities.

A graduate of the University of Central Florida with a bachelor’s in Elementary Education and the University of South Florida with a master’s in Gifted Education, April’s passion is providing a challenging curriculum for 21st century students so they are equipped with the problem-solving and ethical leadership skills they need to thrive in the future. As a board member in her local Rotary Club, she facilitates problem solving in leadership at the Rotary Youth Leadership Awards (RYLA). She is also a certified Project Management Professional (PMP) from the Project Management Institute and earned her certificate in Nonprofit Management from the Edyth Bush Institute at Rollins College.