The relation of locus-of-control orientation and task structure to problem-solving performance of sixth-grade student pairs



This study investigated the relationship of locus-of-control orientations and task structure to the science problem-solving performance of 100 same-sex, sixth-grade student pairs. Pairs performed a four-variable problem-solving task, racing cylinders down a ramp in a series of trials to determine the 3 fastest of 18 different cylinders. The task was completed in one of two treatment conditions: the structured condition with moderate cuing and the unstructured condition with minimal cuing. Pairs completed an after-task assessment, predicting the results of proposed cylinder races, to measure the ability to understand and apply task concepts. Overall conclusions were: (1) There was no relationship between locus-of-control orientation and effectiveness of problem-solving strategy; (2) internality was significantly related to higher accuracy on task solutions and on after-task predictions; (3) there was no significant relationship between task structure and effectiveness of problem-solving strategy; (4) solutions to the task were more accurate in the unstructured task condition; (5) internality related to more accurate solutions in the unstructured task condition.