Cognitive restructuring as an early stage in problem solving

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Abstract

This article examines the hypothesis that there are preliminary stages in problem solving which most chemists neglect when trying to teach their students how to solve problems in introductory chemistry courses. It is during these early stages that relevant information is disembedded from the question and the problem is restructured. Unless students can successfully complete these cognitive restructuring stages, they cannot proceed on to the more analytic stages in problem solving that have received more attention from chemists.

Preliminary evidence for this hypothesis consists of linear correlations between student ability to handle disembedding and cognitive restructuring tasks in the spatial domain and their ability to solve chemistry problems.

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