Good Problems within and Across Disciplines
This paper focuses on the question of what makes a good disciplinary or interdisciplinary problem. We draw from literature across the STEM disciplines and two conference sessions to provide insight into what makes a good problem within a specific discipline and across the disciplines. We use various frameworks to analyze a variety of problems that were nominated as exemplars by STEM education research experts. Common features identified include real-world connections, reinforcement of conceptual understanding, a low floor and high ceiling, multiple solutions paths, and building dispositions of professionals in the discipline. While a good problem need not have all of these features, in general, good problems have more of these features. We also recognize that these problems are context-specific, as what may be considered a problem for one learner could be a trivial exercise for another. We discuss some of the challenges of designing good interdisciplinary problems and identify some features that can make a problem interdisciplinary, including use of cross-cutting concepts and drawing on the specific expertise of each discipline.