CREATE Week: Using the Problem-Solving Wheel to Prioritize Solutions by Abby Woods

Happy New Year, readers! Liz DiLuzio here, lead curator of AEA365. We are excited to kick off 2022 with a “best of” week sponsored by the Consortium for Research on Educational Assessment and Teaching (CREATE). Every blog this week is a revival of posts with evergreen content that was so thought provoking the first time around that we just needed to give it another day in the sun. I hope you enjoy


As a school leader for more than 15 years, having the ability to quickly problem solve while including my team has been a vital craft to develop. I’m Abby Woods, a longtime leader in schools working alongside teams to improve educational experiences for students. My current role, besides being a board member for CREATE, is as the Director of Internal Consulting for Charleston County School District.

Problem Solving Wheel

The problem-solving wheel graphic has been an essential tool for my school teams to attack educational issues related to student achievement and program evaluation. Many times teams gather to admire the problem and often get derailed with discussing the issues rather than prioritizing the solution through a process of performance measures and documentation.

Lessons Learned:

  • Ensure your team can stay focused on the issues at hand and encourage them to be specific with problem. For example, the literacy program is not working is vague; whereas gathering information and creating a ‘work flow’ of the literacy process will help identify the breakdown.
  • Providing stakeholders with an outline or steps helps the team feel successful in problem solving. Additionally, the cogs of the wheel can be assigned, then brought back to share for further examination. Teacher teams feel especially empowered through this level of responsibility and problem-solving for their students.
  • Guiding the team through this problem-solving wheel requires a systematic approach giving each member a role. Put differently, the ‘buy-in’ of the team will grow as the leader develops responsibility within the team.

Rad Resources:


The American Evaluation Association is hosting Consortium for Research on Educational Assessment and Teaching (CREATE) week. The contributions all this week to AEA365 come from members of CREATE. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this AEA365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the AEA365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an AEA365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to AEA365@eval.org. AEA365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators. The views and opinions expressed on the AEA365 blog are solely those of the original authors and other contributors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the American Evaluation Association, and/or any/all contributors to this site.

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