Library homepage

  • school Campus Bookshelves
  • menu_book Bookshelves
  • perm_media Learning Objects
  • login Login
  • how_to_reg Request Instructor Account
  • hub Instructor Commons
  • Download Page (PDF)
  • Download Full Book (PDF)
  • Periodic Table
  • Physics Constants
  • Scientific Calculator
  • Reference & Cite
  • Tools expand_more
  • Readability

selected template will load here

This action is not available.

Social Sci LibreTexts

3.2: Problem Solving Approaches and Interventions

  • Last updated
  • Save as PDF
  • Page ID 43049

  • Vera Kennedy
  • West Hills College Lemoore

There are six problem solving approaches and interventions most commonly used among practitioners. Each approach examines a different aspect of a social problem. The nature of the problem and people involved determines the most appropriate intervention to apply.

A social systems approach examines the social structure surrounding the problem or issue. This approach requires macro, meso, and micro levels of analysis (see pages 12-13) to help understand the structure of the problem and the arrangement of individuals and social groups involved. Analysis requires comprehension of the entire issue and parts associated, as well as, which components and protocols of the structure are independent or dependent of each other. Application of this approach requires grasp of the complete problem including the hierarchy, order, patterns, and boundaries of individuals and social groups including their interactions, relationships, and processes as a body or structure surrounding the issue (Bruhn and Rebach 2007).


The interventions deployed using a social systems approach focus on establishing and maintaining stability for all parties even while change is occurring. Social system interventions require change agents or leaders such as sociological practitioners to help control and guide inputs (what is put in or taken into the problem) and outputs (what is produced, delivered, or supplied resulting from change) used in problem solving (Bruhn and Rebach 2007). This approach requires the involvement of everyone in the social structure to design or re-design the system and processes around the issue.

The human ecology approach examines the “web of life” or the ecosystem of a social problem or issue. This approach is often visually represented by a spider web to demonstrate how lives are interlinked and interdependent. A human ecology approach focuses on macro and meso levels of analysis to develop knowledge about the social bonds, personal needs, and environmental conditions that impede or support life challenges and opportunities for individuals. Practitioners evaluate and analyze where individuals and groups fit in the social structure or ecosystem and their roles. The purpose of this approach is to identify cognitive and emotional boundaries people experience living in social systems to help confront and remove the obstacles they face.


Interventions applied in a human ecological approach target changes in families, institutions, and small communities. The goal is to confront the stressors and strain created by social situations and settings. Interventions from a human ecology approach help people determine acceptable behaviors within different social environments (Bruhn and Rebach 2007). Practitioners work with social groups to remove collaborative challenges between groups in a social ecosystem and the individuals working and living within them. Change is concentrated on developing a new system and process to support and remove obstacles for individuals effected by a social problem.

  • Describe the social systems approach and explain what type of social problems or issues this approach is the most valid method to use.
  • Describe the human ecology approach and explain what type of social problem or issues this approach is the most valid method to use.
  • A county mental health court
  • Gender neutral bathrooms on a college campus
  • Anti-bullying campaign in local K-12 schools

A life cycle approach examines the developmental stages and experiences of individuals facing issues or various life crises. Meso and micro levels of analysis are required with this method. Data gathered assists practitioners in understanding the adaption of individuals or groups to change, challenges, and demands at each developmental stage of life (Bruhn and Rebach 2007). Analysis incorporates evaluation of interpersonal connections between a person and the environment, life transitions, and patterns. This approach if applicable when working with individuals, groups, and organizations, which all have and go through a life cycle and stages of development.

Interventions using this approach target changes in social norms and expectations of individuals or groups facing difficulties. Practitioners help identify the context and issues creating anxiety among individuals or groups and facilitate coping strategies to attack their issues. This approach builds on positive personal and social resources and networks to mend, retrain, or enable development and growth.


The clinical approach evaluates disease, illness, and distress. Both meso and micro levels of analysis are required for this method. Practitioners assess biological, personal, and environmental connections by surveying the patient or client’s background, and current and recent conditions (Bruhn and Rebach 2007). A Patient Evaluation Grid (PEG) is the most commonly used tool for data collection. This approach requires in-depth interactions with the patient or client to identify themes associated with their condition and the structure of the social system related to their illness and support. When applying this approach in medical practice, the evaluation and analysis leads to a diagnosis.

  • Describe the life cycle approach and explain what type of social problems or issues this approach is the most valid method to use.
  • Describe the clinical approach and explain what type of social problem or issues this approach is the most valid method to use.
  • Policing strategies to reduce crime and improve community relationships
  • Reductions in self-injury or cutting among teens
  • A community college social work education degree program

Intervention in a clinical approach concentrates on removal of symptoms, condition, or changes in the individual to solve the problem. The overarching goal of this method is to prevent the problem from reoccurring and the solution from interfering with the individual’s functioning. Problem management must minimally disrupt the social system of the patient or client.

A social norms approach focuses on peer influences to provide individuals with accurate information and role models to induce change (Bruhn and Rebach 2007). This approach observes macro, meso, and micro levels of analysis. Intervention centers on providing correct perceptions about thinking and behavior to induce change in one’s thoughts and actions. This technique is a proactive prevention model aimed at addressing something from happening or arising.

There are three levels of intervention when applying a social norms approach (Bruhn and Rebach 2007). Practitioners use interventions independently or together for a comprehensive solution. At the universal level of intervention , all members of a population receive the intervention without identifying which individuals are at risk. A selective level of intervention directs assistance or services to an entire group of at risk individuals. When specific individuals are beyond risk and already show signs of the problem, they receive an indicated level of intervention . A comprehensive intervention requires an integration of all three levels.

Practitioners assist communities in problem solving by applying a community based approach . All three levels of analysis (macro, meso, and micro) are required for this method. The aim of this approach is to plan, develop, and implement community based interventions whereby local institutions and residents participate in problem solving and work towards preventing future issues. Practitioners work with communities on three outcomes, individual empowerment, connecting people, and improving social interactions and cooperation (Bruhn and Rebach 2007). Concentrating on these outcomes builds on community assets while tailoring solutions to local political, economic, and social conditions. By building bridges among individuals and groups in the community, practitioners facilitate connections between services, programs, and policies while attacking the problem from multiple vantage points.


A community based approach helps ensure problem analysis, evaluation, and interventions are culturally and geographically appropriate for local residents, groups, and organizations. To operate effectively, this intervention requires practitioners to help facilitate face-to-face interactions among community members and develop a communication pattern for solving community problems. To build an appropriate intervention, practitioners must develop knowledge and understanding about the purpose, structure, and process of each group, organization, and collaboration within the community (Bruhn and Rebach 2007). Upon implementation, a community based approach endows local residents and organizations to observe and monitor their own progress and solutions directly.

  • Describe the social norms approach and explain what type of social problems or issues this approach is the most valid method to use.
  • Describe the community based approach and explain what type of social problem or issues this approach is the most valid method to use.
  • Human trafficking prevention program
  • Reductions in electronic cigarette, vaping, and new tobacco product usage


Level 1 Problems and goals

Deploying the most effective strategy for solving a problem is central to impact-oriented work., a strong strategy starts with investigating the problem and the people involved, and then formulating objectives for the intended impact..


Step 1 Problem analysis and alternative approaches

What social issue does your organization want to solve? For whom? What solution do you offer? Does the solution fit into the context, and are there alternatives?

In practice, interventions and programs are often developed before both the problem and the needs of the target group have been properly analyzed. When it later turns out that only a small effect has been realized, it is often because the 'solution' did not sufficiently match the problem at hand, the needs of the target group or the context.

To determine which strategy is likely to be the most effective, you need to gain insight into these three things: A. Alternative approaches (another solution to the same problem). B. The needs of the target audience/ the goal. C. The context : other parties that play a role and what else is happening in the environment.

B and C are discussed in the next step: Stakeholder Analysis. Below, we first describe how you can start analyzing the problem and the alternative approaches.

What you can do :

Involve the target group and/or stakeholders.

Formulate a problem definition and identify underlying causes of the problem. You can use a 'problem tree' for this (see worksheet).

Determine the urgency of the problem, if needed broken down into different parties involved.

Determine the scope of the problem.

Analyze what is already known about effective interventions and other alternatives to solving this problem.


Step 2 Stakeholder analysis

Social problems exist in a context. When developing an impact strategy, it is therefore important to define which individuals and organizations are involved. This is relevant for both the target audience, and other parties involved (also known as 'stakeholders').

What you can do:

Create a list of all stakeholders affected by the problem.

Identify which problems each stakeholder encounters, as well as the underlying causes of these problems. This can be done through interviews with stakeholders, experts and literature reviews.

Determine who the primary stakeholders are which your organization would like to affect. If your organization focuses on improving people's lives, then this is your (primary) target group.

Make a list of the organizations already providing resources or services targeting the cause of the problem in order to explore the possibility future cooperations. 

Identify what information is still missing from these resources and services to see whether your organization could make a difference.

Determine which stakeholders are most important and involve them in the developing a Theory of Change.


Step 3 Formulate impact goals

Impact goals indicate what you aim to achieve, for whom, and to what extent. These goals can be ambitious but they should also be achievable, and they need to be in line with the possibilities offered by the means at your disposal (time, money, expertise).

Define long-term ambitions: what will happen to the target group or the issue in ten years from now?

If relevant, define goals for different stakeholders, as well as for society as a whole.

Make a timeline for the realization of the goals.

Do a reality check; are the goals ambitious and achievable? Are they in line with the problems as defined in step 1 or the stakeholders as defined in step 2?

See level 3 for more information on how you can formulate SMART goals, and the pillar Culture on how you can involve employees, funders, and stakeholders in your impact strategy.

Impact goals and the CBF Accreditation policy

The CBF requires organizations in all of its assessment categories to motivate and record in their multi-annual plan the improvement they hope to achieve for their target audience or issue.

Info- and worksheets

The ABC-Method: What is the best alternative, which meets the needs of the target audience, in the particular context?

The problem tree is another model for carrying out a problem analysis.

This is an example problem and objective trees from the International Labor Organization.


Math Interventions

  • Introduction
  • Subitizing Interventions
  • Counting Interventions: Whole Numbers Less Than 30
  • Counting Interventions: Whole Numbers Greater Than 30 (Place Value)
  • Counting Interventions: Fractions
  • Counting Interventions: Decimals
  • Composing and Decomposing Numbers Interventions
  • Rounding Interventions
  • Number Sense Lesson Plans
  • Addition and Subtraction Facts
  • Multiplication and Division Facts
  • Computational Fluency Lesson Plans
  • Understanding the Problem Interventions
  • Planning and Executing a Solution Interventions
  • Monitoring Progress & Reflecting on a Solution Interventions
  • Problem-Solving Process Interventions

Problem-Solving Process

Response to error: using the problem-solving process, feedback during the lesson, strategies to try after the lesson.

  • Problem-Solving Lesson Plans
  • Identifying Essential Variables Interventions
  • Direct Models Interventions
  • Counting On/Back Interventions
  • Deriving Interventions
  • Interpreting the Results Interventions
  • Mathematical Modeling Lesson Plans
  • Math Rules and Concepts Interventions
  • Math Rules and Concepts Lesson Plans

A student who has difficulty understanding the problem, planning and executing a solution , self-monitoring progress toward a goal, and evaluating a solution will benefit from intervention around the problem-solving process. The following interventions  support  students  in internalizing this process from start to finish. This page includes intervention strategies that you can use to support your students in this area. Remember, if you're teaching a full process from start to finish, you probably want to use the Self-Regulated Strategy Development approach, which spreads explicit instruction of a full process across a series of intervention lessons.  As you read, consider which of these interventions best aligns with your student's strengths and needs in the whole-learner domains.

Self-Regulated Strategy Development 

Self-Regulated Strategy Development (or SRSD) is one way to teach the problem-solving process. The SRSD model "requires teachers to explicitly teach students the use of the strategy, to model the strategy, to cue students to use the strategy, and to scaffold instruction to gradually allow the student to become an independent strategy user." (Reid, Leinemann, & Hagaman, 2013). The steps of teaching SRSD are slightly different from the steps of explicit instruction because, in SRSD, each step must be mastered before the next one is started. For example, you might spend an entire lesson on Developing Background Knowledge before moving on to Discuss It (see below). The longterm goal of SRSD is for students to be able carry out the strategy independently, and so time is dedicated to teaching each step of the strategy in such a manner as enables students to internalize the material. 

Teaching SRSD model requires six steps:

  • Develop Background Knowledge. Define the key ideas that students need to know in order to apply the strategy.
  • Discuss It. Tell the student what the strategy is called, and describe each step.
  • Model It. Use a think-aloud to demonstrate the strategy.
  • Memorize It . Internalize strategy.
  • Support It. Gradually release responsibility to students.
  • Independent performance. Give students opportunities to practice strategy without support.

SRSD Explicit Instruction Six-Step Model: 

To support your students' ability to apply SRSD, you should start by explicitly teaching the six-step model. Keep in mind that this type of explicit instruction may take place over a number of days. 

Step 1: Set the Context for Student Learning and Develop Background Knowledge.  

  • Introduce Word Problem Mnemonics, and discuss the use of the mnemonic: "Today you will be learning a new trick to help you solve problems. This strategy is called CUBES." (Teacher gets out chart paper and markers and writes down C, U , B, E, and S vertically.) "CUBES is a self-regulated strategy, which means that you will learn to memorize the strategy and use it without my support. Let's go through each step of CUBES and see how it will help you go through the problem-solving process. First, C-Circle the Numbers" (Teacher write this next to C.) "U - Underline important words." (Teacher writes next to U.)  B- Box the question " (Teache r writes next to B). E- Eliminate unnecessary information. S - Solve and Check. (Teacher writes these terms next to E and S). "Now, what do we need to know when we are doing CUBES?  We need to know which words are important. We also need to eliminate unnecessary information" (Teacher goes on to define these terms.)

Step 2: Discuss It. 

  • Discuss the significance and benefits of using CUBES. Discuss and determine goals for using the strategy. At this point, students can examine their past work to set an individual goal: "So, how is a self-regulated strategy going to help us? Well, it gives us an easy way to remember the five steps to solving the problem. How else does it help us?" (Teacher elicits student responses.) "When we are using a SRSD, we ask ourselves questions to make sure we are following the steps. We call these self-statements.  My self-statements are 'What's my first step?' and 'What am I supposed to do now?' I ask myself self-statements so I can make sure that I am using each step of the strategy, and that I don't miss any steps." (Teacher and students discuss benefits of self-statements.)  "Now let's take some time to set goals for using this strategy...." (Teacher and students set goals, such as "students will each have two self-statements they use when employing the CUBE strategy.")

Step 3: Model It.

  • The teacher models the strategy using think alouds and self-statements: "Watch as I show you what CUBES looks like when I use it. See if you can notice my self-statements. What am I supposed to do? I'm supposed to to follow the five steps to solve a problem. What is my first step? C. That's right, C. I need to circle the numbers. I'll do that now, and then check that off my CUBE S  list. (Teacher circles numbers). Okay, I'm going to check my CUBES list again. I've already completed C. Now, on to U. I have to Underline important words. (Teacher continues to model the entire CUBES process with 1- 3 problems. The session ends. Teacher starts Model It with new problems on Day 2.)

Step 4: Memorize It . 

  • Students memorize the mnemonic and each of the steps of CUBES. The idea is that the students will not be able to implement the strategy if they cannot recall the steps. "Next, we are are going to take some time to memorize each step. What is C?" "Circle the numbers!"What is U?" (Teacher completes this process for all the letters. At this time, students also write the mnemonic down so they can use it as a reference. If they need to, they can come up with a beat or a chant to remember the mnemonic.)

Step 5: Support It.

  • In step 5, the teacher gradually releases responsibility to the students. This is the most important stage, especially for struggling readers. In order for students to be able to implement this strategy on their own, they must be supported as needed. Graham, Harris, Mason, and Friedlander (2008), SRSD experts and authors, often tell their teachers, "Please Don't P.E.E. in the Classroom - P ost, E xplain, E xpect. Success with SRSD depends on using all the stages for students who have difficulty with [reading]." SRSD instruction and implementation are only successful when students are given multiple opportunities to practice using their strategy with teacher support before trying it on their own.  "Let's read the next problem and do CUBES together this time..." Teacher follows the steps of gradual release to transfer responsibility to students. The teacher first engages students with guided support. She might read the problem and allow students to complete different parts of the strategy. Then, students might do CUBES in groups. This part of the strategy might take multiple days, until students are effectively completing the strategy by using self-statements. 

Step 6: Independent Practice

  • In the final step, students practice using the strategy independently. "Now, you are ready to use CUBES on your own! Remember to use your self-statements, like What do I do next? and What am I supposed to do now? and I'll look at my CUBES sheet to see what I do next. as you employ this strategy!" Teacher circulates and provides support for students who are not yet ready to work independently.  

Activity A: Word Problem Mnemonics

One way to support your student's problem-solving ability is to teach her a mnemonic for a series of steps to take whenever she encounters a story problem. The following brief, developed by the Evidence Based Intervention Network at the University of Missouri, describes this strategy. As you read, consider how each mnemonic breaks down the problem-solving process.

Click here  to read the brief. 

Word Problem Mnemonics in Action

In the video below, Emily Art explicitly models how to use the word mnemonic, CUBES, to teach the problem solving process.

As you watch, consider: How do mnemonics support a student's ability to independently carry out the problem solving process?

Another strategy to use to teach your student the problem-solving process is called Self-Organizing Questions. Gifford (2005) advocates for teaching students a series of questions to ask themselves that will guide them through the problem-solving process. Read through each prompt below and consider its purpose. 

  • Getting to Grips:  What are we trying to do?
  • Connecting to Prior Knowledge:  Have we done anything like this before?
  • Planning:  What do we need?
  • Considering Alternative Methods:  Is there another way?
  • Monitoring Progress:  How does it look so far?
  • Evaluating Solutions:  Does it work?   How can we check? Can we make it better?

  Self-Organizing Questions in Action 

Give the student a problem. Then, go through the six self-organizing questions to guide the student through the problem-solving process. This example refers to the problem below. 

Lamont had 14 pumpkin seeds. He also had 32 apple seeds. He planted 41 of the seeds. How many seeds did Lamont have left?

Teacher: We are going to use the self-organizing questions to solve this problem. Frank, what are we trying to do?

Frank: We are trying to figure out how many seeds Lamont has left, after he plants the pumpkin and apple seeds.

Teacher: Let's think about similar problems we've had in the past. Have we done anything like this before?

Frank: Yes, yesterday, we solved a problem about how many baseball and soccer balls Jamie had. 

Teacher: So, what do we need to do to plan to solve this problem?

Frank: We need to add up the total number of seeds, and then subtract how many he planted.

Teacher: Is there another way to solve this problem?

Frank: We could probably draw it, or use manipulatives to help us. 

Teacher: Okay, go ahead and execute it! How does it look so far?

Frank: It's working for me. I added the types of seeds together, which gave me 46. Then, I subtracted the 41 seeds he planted. That gave me 5 seeds leftover, which seems about right. 

Teacher: How can we check our answer?

Frank: I'll see if I can add it back up. My solution was 5, so I'll add that to 41, which gives me 46. Then, I'll add the number of seeds he had total, which gives me 46! So, it matches!

Activity C: Solve It

If your student has particular struggles with understanding the problem, use Solve It, which is an explicit approach to teaching the problem-solving process, with an emphasis on understanding what the problem is about. The following brief, developed by the Evidence Based Intervention Network at the University of Missouri, describes this strategy. As you read, consider how this approach supports student understanding of problems.

Click  here  to read the brief. 

Solve It in Action Read the sample lesson plan (Montague, 2006) below to see what Solve It looks like in action. For your reference, click here to access a  self-regulation script  for students.


Gifford, S. (2005). Teaching mathematics 3-5: Developing learning in the foundation stage. Berkshire:  McGraw-Hill Education. Graham, S., & Harris, K.R. (2005).  Writing better: Effective strategies for teaching students with learning difficulties.  Baltimore, Maryland: Paul H. Brookes Publishing Co. Hughes, E.M. (2011). Intervention Name: Solve It! Columbia, Mo: The Evidence Based Intervention Network, The University of Missouri. Retrieved from Hughes, E.M. & Powell, S. (2011). Intervention Name: Word-Problem Mnemonics. Columbia, Mo: The Evidence Based Intervention Network, The University of Missouri. Retrieved from Montague, Marjorie. (2006). Self-regulation strategies for better math performance in middle school. In M. Montague and A. Jistendra (Eds.), Teaching mathematics to middle school students with learning disabilities. New York: The Guilford Press.   Reid, R., Lienemann, T. O., & Hagaman, J. L. (2013). Strategy instruction for students with learning disabilities. New York: The Guilford Press.

Think about the following scenario, which takes place after a teacher has explicitly taught a student to use the problem-solving process. The following example refers to the problem below. 

Lamont had 14 pumpkin seeds. He also had 32 apple seeds. He planted 41 of the seeds. How many seeds did Lamont have left?      Teacher: "Now that you understand the problem, what are you doing to do next?"      Student: "Solve it! 41-32 = 9. He had nine seeds left." 

In such a case, what might you do? 

When you are planning your lessons, you should anticipate that your student will make errors throughout. Here are a series of prompts that you can use to respond to errors. Keep in mind that all students are different, and that students might respond better to some types of feedback than to others.

If your student struggles to meet your objective, there are various techniques that you might try in order to adjust the activity so as best to meet your student's needs. 

  • << Previous: Monitoring Progress & Reflecting on a Solution Interventions
  • Next: Problem-Solving Lesson Plans >>
  • Last Updated: Jul 26, 2023 6:36 PM
  • URL:

Life-Skills-Advocate logo header

  • Meet Our Team
  • Discover The LSA Difference
  • Coaching Process
  • Core Values
  • What is Executive Functioning?
  • Understanding the EF Ripple Effect
  • For Daily Life
  • ND-Friendly Tools
  • Executive Functioning Assessment
  • Executive Functioning Meal Plan
  • Executive Functioning 101 Resource Hub
  • Executive Functioning IEP Goal Resource Hub
  • How To Make Stuff More EF Friendly

10 Problem Solving IEP Goals for Real Life

Written by:

  Rebekah Pierce

Filed under: IEPs , Executive Functioning , Problem Solving

READING TIME:  ~ minutes

We all have problems – but when it comes to solving problems, how good is your child at solving them?

For many parents and teachers who work with children with executive functioning issues, it quickly becomes clear that problem-solving is essential for succeeding in school and the workplace.

Problem-solving not only requires being able to identify when a problem exists, but also being able to come up with reasonable solutions to fix them.

If you’re planning on writing IEP goals that address problem-solving skills, this post should serve as a helpful starting place.

What is Problem Solving?

Problem-solving is simply our ability to identify and describe a problem and then come up with solutions to resolve it.

What exactly defines “a problem”?” It’s any time you want something and there is something that stands in the way, in essence. When you have good problem-solving skills, you are able to evaluate this problem and figure out possible steps forward.

As is the case with all other executive functioning skills, including task initiation and organization, a child’s ability to problem solve relates closely to other executive functioning skills.

Ask yourself the following questions to figure out whether problem-solving is an area that needs some work in your child:

  • Can he or she complete games and puzzles to accomplish a goal?
  • Is he or she able to identify all parts of a problem, including where it originated and why?
  • Can your child break apart a larger problem into smaller parts? Can the student identify problems in many different contexts, like work versus school versus social contexts?
  • Will your child seek guidance from others when looking for help in solving a problem?
  • Does the child persist in coming up with new strategies when the original ones are not successful?

Being a good problem solver doesn’t just come down to being able to “figure things out” in real life. A child who struggles with problem-solving skills may also develop problem behaviors. They might talk back, demonstrate aggression, or engage in other self-destructive behaviors when frustrated with a challenging task.

Therefore, coming up with IEP goals that address this “problem” of not being able to solve problems head-on is essential.

Sample IEP Goals for Problem Solving

Here are a few sample IEP goals for problem-solving to give you some inspiration.

Adaptive Goals

  • By the end of the school year, when given a written scenario in which a problem needs to be solved, the student will provide two appropriate solutions with 80% accuracy in 4 out of 5 opportunities, according to teacher observation.
  • By the end of the school year, the student will practice problem-solving techniques when dealing with personal or school experiences 100% of the time, according to teacher observation.

Social Goals

  • By the end of the IEP term, when given pre-taught behavioral strategies to decrease or avoid escalating behaviors, the students will complete at least one activity with positive behavioral results, according to teacher observation.
  • By the end of the school year, the student will solve problems by apologizing in conflict situations 90% of the time, based on teacher observation.

Reading Goals

  • By the end of the IEP term, when presented with text at his instructional level, the student will use context clues to determine the meaning of unknown words with 80% accuracy, as measured by written work samples.
  • By the end of the school year, the students will read a short story and answer who, what, where, why, and how questions with 90% accuracy in four out of five recorded opportunities, based on teacher observation.
  • By the end of the IEP term, when given a word problem, the student will independently determine which operation is to be used with 100% accuracy on 4 out of 5 trials, measured quarterly by teacher observation.
  • By the end of the school year, the student will independently solve two-step word problems (mixed addition and subtraction) with 100% accuracy on 4 out of 5 trials based on teacher observation.

Writing Goals

  • By the end of the school year, when given a writing assignment, the student will independently create a keyword outline that includes the main topic and three supporting points as a basis for the essay, based on a rubric, 90% of the time.
  • By the end of the IEP term, the student will create five-paragraph essays with proper essay structure that clearly address a question in an assignment, based on a rubric, 100% of the time.

Tips on Setting Goals for Problem Solving

Here are a few tips to help you come up with effective goals that work toward better problem-solving skills.

Do a Behavioral Observation

Behavioral observations can be useful for identifying all kinds of skills deficits, but particularly in the area of problem-solving. Take the time to sit down and observe the child at work.

What do they do when they encounter a problem? What are their strengths and weaknesses? What are they able to solve independently – and in what areas do they consistently require support?

A skills assessment can also be helpful. The Real Life Executive Functioning Skills Assessment is a great place to start, since it will help you see where your child is struggling in particular.

Get the Whole Team Involved

Writing problem-solving goals should not be an independent process. It should involve all members of your child’s care team, including family members, coaches, teachers, and other professionals. You’ll need their input to see if the child is struggling with problem-solving across the board, or just in one or two isolated areas.

Play to Their Interests

Motivation plays a major role in teaching new executive functioning skills so do your best to make sure your student stays motivated! Incorporate their favorite activities into learning and have conversations about your child’s favorite movie character, sports figure, or other celebrities. What sorts of problems have they encountered? How did the person solve these problems successfully?

Try Role Playing

Give your child the opportunity to practice his new problem-solving skills in every walk of life. Using role-play cards that prompt your child to solve problems in certain situations (like when you have a large homework assignment due tomorrow or even something as simple as you don’t know what to eat) is highly effective. You can find templates and helpful examples for how to get started with these scenarios in the Real Life Executive Functioning Workbook (coupon code LSA20 for 20% off at checkout).

Try the IDEAL Method

The IDEAL Method is one strategy you can use to help your child become a better problem solver. This method can be used while you are working toward any of the sample goals listed above (or any that you come up with on your own). You can learn more about it here and in the Real Life Executive Functioning Workbook .

Know When to Ask For Help

None of us is an island. We all need help from time to time. Knowing when – and who – to ask for help is essential. Encourage your child to brainstorm a list of people who can help in a pinch and be sure to try the Phone a Friend exercise in the Real Life Executive Functioning Workbook.

How to Address Each Goal

When working on problem-solving skills, the most important thing to remember is that you need to be focused on other areas in which your child struggles, too.

Problem-solving is often viewed as a collection of executive functioning skills rather than one individual skill. To help your child become better at solving problems, he needs to develop other executive functioning skills as well.

Problem-solving requires the ability to evaluate and outline different strategies – aka, planning. They need to be able to take action – task initiation. They might also need to use attentional control, organization, and time management skills. A holistic approach to addressing these problem-solving goals is essential.

Our Executive Functioning Assessment is a great place to start. It will show you where your child is at and what they need in order to improve. This assessment isn’t just for teachers – it’s also a helpful resource for parents, administrators, and even the student himself or herself.

Problem Solved! Here’s How to Write the Best Problem-Solving IEP Goals

If you find the process of writing IEP goals for problem-solving to be…well, a major problem, then you need to consider these tips. If you aren’t sure where to start, get organized! Start by giving your student the Executive Functioning Assessment and use the Real Life Executive Functioning Workbook as a guide to help point you in the direction of what skills to target.

Start by writing down what you want them to be able to do. Be as specific as possible, and use terms that your student can understand.

Once you have a good list of goals, work on breaking them down into smaller steps that will help your student reach their ultimate goal.

Remember to make sure these steps are achievable, measurable, and time-based so you can track your student’s progress and give them the support they need along the way.

Problem solved!

Looking For More Executive Functioning IEP Goal Ideas?

Visit our EF IEP Goal Resource Hub or check out our other skill-specific IEP goal articles:

  • 8 Impulse Control IEP Goals
  • 8 Attentional Control IEP Goals
  • 8 Self-Monitoring IEP Goals
  • 10 Problem Solving IEP Goals
  • 10 Working Memory IEP Goals
  • 9 Emotional Control IEP Goals
  • 7 Cognitive Flexibility IEP Goals
  • 10 Organization IEP Goals
  • 12 Task Initiation IEP Goals
  • 10 Time Management IEP Goals
  • 15 Planning IEP Goals

Further Reading

  • Amy Sippl: Executive Functioning Skills 101: Problem-Solving
  • Amy Sippl: Teaching the IDEAL Problem-Solving Method to Diverse Learners
  • Amy Sippl: Problem-Solving: Long-Term Strategies & Supports For Diverse Learners

Neurodivergent-Friendly Tools & Resources

Check our full reader and client-curated selection of neurodivergent-friendly tools & resources .

Speks Crags

Stay focused and relieve stress with Speks Crags magnetic desk toy.

intervention and problem solving goals

Click here to view more Speks products.

intervention and problem solving goals

IEP Meetings (Online Course by Rise Educational Advocacy)

On-demand IEP training at your fingertips. Understand IEPs, communicate effectively with teams, and feel confident at every meeting.

IEP Meetings (Online Course)

Use coupon code LSA10 for 10% off.

Discover Notion , a platform that reduces stress and enhances organization, especially for those with ADHD. Dive into the Ultimate ADHD Life Planner and transform your approach to tasks.

intervention and problem solving goals

About The Author

Rebekah pierce.

Rebekah is a New York writer and teacher who specializes in writing in the education, gardening, health, and natural food niches. In addition to teaching and writing, she also owns a farm and is the author of the blog J&R Pierce Family Farm .

Related Posts

Executive functioning in the kitchen: 10 simple strategies to reduce stress in the kitchen, how to overcome procrastination guilt, 16 tips to customize a to-do list for any learner, how to teach your teen to use self-monitoring, how to make school more executive function friendly, 6 effective strategies for getting organized in the new year.

Life Skills Advocate is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Some of the links in this post may be affiliate links, which means if you make a purchase, Life Skills Advocate will earn a commission. However, we only promote products we actually use or those which have been vetted by the greater community of families and professionals who support individuals with diverse learning needs.

Session expired

Please log in again. The login page will open in a new tab. After logging in you can close it and return to this page.

chrome icon

What is a goal in the context of problem solving?  

A goal in the context of problem solving refers to the desired outcome or objective that the problem solver aims to achieve. It is the target that needs to be reached through the problem-solving process. Goals play a crucial role in problem solving as they guide the problem solver's actions and decisions. They help in identifying the problem, determining the operations or steps required to solve it, and navigating through the problem space. Goals can be abstract mental representations that encompass various aspects of the problem, including the physical, cognitive, and social environments. They can also be interconnected within a goal system, which influences the problem solver's motivation, allocation of resources, and generation of solutions . The study of problem solving has revealed insights into the representations and processes underlying high-level cognition, emphasizing the computational nature of human thinking and the role of domain-specific knowledge and heuristics in achieving goals .

Answers from top 5 papers

Citation Count

Related Questions

See what other people are reading.

intervention and problem solving goals

Home » Blog » General » How IEP Goals Support Problem Solving Skills in Students

Post Image

How IEP Goals Support Problem Solving Skills in Students

Welcome to my blog! In today’s post, we will explore the connection between Individualized Education Program (IEP) goals and problem-solving skills in students. As a Speech Language Pathologist and Social Emotional Learning expert, I have witnessed the incredible impact that IEP goals can have on supporting students’ problem-solving abilities. Let’s dive in!

I. Introduction

A. brief explanation of social emotional learning (sel).

Social Emotional Learning (SEL) is the process through which individuals acquire and apply the knowledge, attitudes, and skills necessary to understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions. Problem-solving skills are an integral part of SEL and play a crucial role in a student’s overall development.

B. Importance of problem-solving skills in students

Problem-solving skills are essential for students to navigate through various challenges they encounter in their academic, personal, and social lives. These skills enable students to think critically, analyze situations, generate creative solutions, and make informed decisions. Problem-solving skills also contribute to improved self-confidence, resilience, and adaptability.

C. Connection between Individualized Education Program (IEP) goals and problem-solving skills

An Individualized Education Program (IEP) is a personalized plan developed for students with disabilities to ensure they receive the necessary support and accommodations to succeed academically and socially. IEP goals are specific objectives that are designed to address the unique needs of each student. By incorporating problem-solving skills into IEP goals, educators can provide targeted interventions and strategies to support students’ development in this area.

II. Understanding IEP Goals

A. definition and purpose of iep goals.

IEP goals are individualized objectives that outline what a student is expected to achieve within a specific timeframe. These goals are developed based on the student’s strengths, weaknesses, and unique needs. The purpose of IEP goals is to provide a roadmap for educators, parents, and other professionals involved in the student’s education to ensure that appropriate support and interventions are provided.

B. How IEP goals are developed and implemented

IEP goals are developed through a collaborative process involving the student, parents, educators, and other professionals. The team assesses the student’s current abilities, identifies areas of need, and sets specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) goals. Once the goals are established, they are implemented through targeted interventions, accommodations, and modifications.

C. Importance of aligning IEP goals with students’ needs and abilities

It is crucial to align IEP goals with students’ needs and abilities to ensure that they are meaningful and achievable. By tailoring the goals to the student’s specific challenges and strengths, educators can provide targeted support and interventions that address their unique requirements. This alignment also promotes student engagement, motivation, and progress.

III. The Role of IEP Goals in Supporting Problem Solving Skills

A. identifying problem-solving skills in iep goals.

When developing IEP goals, it is important to identify the specific problem-solving skills that need to be addressed. These skills may include critical thinking, decision-making, conflict resolution, goal-setting, and self-advocacy. By explicitly stating these skills in the IEP goals, educators can focus on supporting the student’s development in these areas.

B. Targeting specific problem-solving areas in IEP goals

IEP goals should target specific problem-solving areas that are relevant to the student’s needs and challenges. For example, if a student struggles with decision-making, the goal may focus on improving their ability to evaluate options, consider consequences, and make informed choices. By targeting specific areas, educators can provide targeted interventions and strategies to support the student’s growth.

C. Incorporating problem-solving strategies into IEP goals

In addition to identifying problem-solving skills and targeting specific areas, it is important to incorporate problem-solving strategies into IEP goals. These strategies may include teaching students how to break down complex problems, brainstorming solutions, evaluating the pros and cons of each option, and implementing the chosen solution. By explicitly including these strategies in the IEP goals, educators can provide the necessary guidance and support to help students develop effective problem-solving skills.

IV. Benefits of IEP Goals for Problem Solving Skills

A. enhanced self-awareness and self-regulation.

By incorporating problem-solving skills into IEP goals, students develop a greater sense of self-awareness and self-regulation. They learn to recognize their emotions, thoughts, and behaviors in problem-solving situations, enabling them to make more informed decisions and manage their responses effectively.

B. Improved decision-making abilities

IEP goals that target problem-solving skills contribute to improved decision-making abilities in students. Through targeted interventions and strategies, students learn to evaluate options, consider consequences, weigh pros and cons, and make decisions that align with their goals and values.

C. Increased resilience and adaptability

Problem-solving skills are closely linked to resilience and adaptability. By developing these skills through IEP goals, students become more resilient in the face of challenges and setbacks. They learn to approach problems with a growth mindset, view obstacles as opportunities for growth, and adapt their strategies as needed.

V. Strategies for Developing IEP Goals that Support Problem Solving Skills

A. collaborating with the student, parents, and other professionals.

When developing IEP goals that support problem-solving skills, it is essential to involve the student, parents, and other professionals in the process. By collaborating and gathering input from all stakeholders, educators can gain a comprehensive understanding of the student’s needs and strengths, ensuring that the goals are tailored to their unique requirements.

B. Setting realistic and measurable goals

IEP goals should be realistic and measurable to ensure that progress can be accurately tracked and evaluated. By setting specific targets and objectives, educators can monitor the student’s growth and make necessary adjustments to the interventions and strategies as needed.

C. Providing appropriate supports and accommodations

It is important to provide appropriate supports and accommodations to students as they work towards achieving their problem-solving goals. These supports may include visual aids, social stories, graphic organizers, assistive technology, and additional time or assistance. By tailoring the supports to the student’s needs, educators can enhance their problem-solving skills development.

VI. Monitoring and Evaluating Progress

A. regular assessment of iep goals.

Regular assessment of IEP goals is crucial to monitor the student’s progress and make necessary adjustments. Educators should establish a system for tracking the student’s growth, collecting data, and evaluating the effectiveness of the interventions and strategies implemented.

B. Tracking student’s problem-solving skills development

When monitoring progress, it is important to specifically track the student’s problem-solving skills development. This can be done through observations, work samples, checklists, rubrics, and other assessment tools. By focusing on problem-solving skills, educators can gain insights into the student’s growth in this area.

C. Making necessary adjustments to IEP goals as needed

Based on the assessment data and the student’s progress, educators should make necessary adjustments to the IEP goals as needed. This may involve modifying the goals, interventions, or strategies to better support the student’s problem-solving skills development.

VII. Conclusion

A. recap of the importance of problem-solving skills in students.

Problem-solving skills are essential for students to navigate through various challenges in their lives. These skills contribute to their overall development, self-confidence, and success in academic and social settings.

B. Emphasize the role of IEP goals in supporting problem-solving skills

IEP goals play a crucial role in supporting students’ problem-solving skills. By incorporating problem-solving skills into the goals, educators can provide targeted interventions, strategies, and supports to help students develop effective problem-solving abilities.

C. Encouragement for parents and educators to prioritize problem-solving skills development through IEP goals

As parents and educators, it is important to prioritize problem-solving skills development through IEP goals. By working collaboratively and providing the necessary support and interventions, we can empower students to become confident problem solvers who are equipped to overcome challenges and succeed in all aspects of their lives.

Start your EverydaySpeech Free trial today and unlock a world of resources to support your students’ problem-solving skills development!

Post Image

Related Blog Posts:

Pragmatic language: enhancing social skills for meaningful interactions.

Pragmatic Language: Enhancing Social Skills for Meaningful Interactions Pragmatic Language: Enhancing Social Skills for Meaningful Interactions Introduction: Social skills play a crucial role in our daily interactions. They enable us to navigate social situations,...

Preparing for Success: Enhancing Social Communication in Grade 12

Preparing for Success: Enhancing Social Communication in Grade 12 Preparing for Success: Enhancing Social Communication in Grade 12 As Grade 12 students prepare to embark on their final year of high school, it's important to recognize the significance of social...

Preparing for Success: Enhancing Social Communication in Grade 12 Preparing for Success: Enhancing Social Communication in Grade 12 As students enter Grade 12, they are on the cusp of adulthood and preparing for the next chapter of their lives. While academic success...

Share on facebook


Better doesn’t have to be harder, social skills lessons students actually enjoy.

Be the best educator you can be with no extra prep time needed. Sign up to get access to free samples from the best Social Skills and Social-Emotional educational platform.

Get Started Instantly for Free

Complete guided therapy.

The subscription associated with this email has been cancelled and is no longer active. To reactivate your subscription, please log in.

If you would like to make changes to your account, please log in using the button below and navigate to the settings page. If you’ve forgotten your password, you can reset it using the button below.

Unfortunately it looks like we’re not able to create your subscription at this time. Please contact support to have the issue resolved. We apologize for the inconvenience. Error: Web signup - customer email already exists

Welcome back! The subscription associated with this email was previously cancelled, but don’t fret! We make it easy to reactivate your subscription and pick up right where you left off. Note that subscription reactivations aren't eligible for free trials, but your purchase is protected by a 30 day money back guarantee. Let us know anytime within 30 days if you aren’t satisfied and we'll send you a full refund, no questions asked. Please press ‘Continue’ to enter your payment details and reactivate your subscription

Notice About Our SEL Curriculum

Our SEL Curriculum is currently in a soft product launch stage and is only available by Site License. A Site License is currently defined as a school-building minimum or a minimum cost of $3,000 for the first year of use. Individual SEL Curriculum licenses are not currently available based on the current version of this product.

By clicking continue below, you understand that access to our SEL curriculum is currently limited to the terms above.

intervention and problem solving goals


  1. Goal Writing for Pediatric Occupational Therapists Tips, OT, cota, occupational therapy, SMART

    intervention and problem solving goals

  2. Top 15 Problem-Solving Activities for Your Team to Master

    intervention and problem solving goals

  3. Overview of the problem solving intervention

    intervention and problem solving goals


    intervention and problem solving goals

  5. PPT

    intervention and problem solving goals

  6. Problem Solving Practice Adhd

    intervention and problem solving goals



  2. 05 Problem Solving Attitude with Prioritize to do list

  3. The Effects of a Social Story Intervention on Reducing Problem Behavior in a Child with ASD


  5. What is problems solving skill?

  6. How to Take Decision in Life


  1. Why Is Motivation Important?

    Motivation is important because it provides the drive for people to accomplish their goals, maintain their responsibilities or solve problems.

  2. What Are Some Basic Goals and Objectives for Work?

    One basic goal or objective for work is a goal that addresses problem solving, such as developing a new system for organization that helps the company with efficiency. Another type of goal addresses standards or measurements, such as the qu...

  3. What Are the Six Steps of Problem Solving?

    The six steps of problem solving involve problem definition, problem analysis, developing possible solutions, selecting a solution, implementing the solution and evaluating the outcome. Problem solving models are used to address issues that...

  4. 3.1: Interventions and Problem Solving

    Each sociological approach incorporates a different level of analysis to assess the problem with a specific focal area of intervention. When

  5. 3.2: Problem Solving Approaches and Interventions

    The overarching goal of this method is to prevent the problem from reoccurring and the solution from interfering with the individual's

  6. Improving problem solving with simple interventions

    PDF | Although problem solving is a major goal for most science educators, many still rely on the demonstration method as an approach to teach it. This.

  7. Strategy Level 1: Problems and goals

    Analyze what is already known about effective interventions and other alternatives to solving this problem. strategie_check-1.png. Step 2

  8. (PDF) Problem Solving and Intervention Design: Guidelines for the

    progress toward problem-solving goals. As an illustration of cognitive

  9. Problem-Solving Process Interventions

    A student who has difficulty understanding the problem, planning and executing a solution, self-monitoring progress toward a goal

  10. 10 Problem Solving IEP Goals For Real Life

    Problem solving is an essential executive functioning skill. Learn how to integrate it into your functional and academic IEP (and everyday) goals.

  11. How to Use Problem Solving to Achieve Your Goals

    Problem solving is a valuable skill that can help you overcome challenges, cope with stress, and achieve your goals.

  12. What is a goal in the context of problem solving?

    A goal in the context of problem solving refers to the desired outcome or objective that the problem solver aims to achieve. It is the target that needs to

  13. How IEP Goals Support Problem Solving Skills in Students

    By incorporating problem-solving skills into IEP goals, educators can provide targeted interventions and strategies to support students' development in this

  14. • goal of intervention and problemsolving.​

    Answer ... Answer: become involved in something (such as a conflict) in order to have an influence on what happens,. Explanation: to delay