Cognition and Instruction

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Exam 2 Objectives

Chapters 8 & 9, class notes (ACT) and discussions

1. Describe typical problems people demonstrate when trying to solve problems Functional Fixedness: This term refers to the tendency to view problems only in their customary manner. Functional fixedness prevents people from fully seeing all of the different options that might be available to find a solution. Assumptions: When dealing with a problem, people often make assumptions about the constraints and obstacles that prevent certain solutions. Mental Set: Another common problem-solving obstacle is known as a mental set, which is the tendency people have to only use solutions that have worked in the past rather than looking for alternative ideas. A mental set can often work as a heuristic, making it a useful problem-solving tool. However, mental sets can also lead to inflexibility, making it more difficult to find effective solutions.

2. Describe distinctions between Domain-Free and Domain-Specific problem solving Strategies. Domain-Free strategies are general problem-solving heuristics that apply across all types of problems working backwards, means ends analysis, and pattern matching. They are useful to problem solvers because of their wide applicability. Research indicates they are weak strategies that are of some use in helping solve problems, but the less structure the problem has, the less efficient they are. They are necessary to solve problems, but not sufficient to solve problems. And unlike domain-specific strategies, there is no difference between expert and novice problem solvers in their ability to use them. Domain-specific strategies remain under conscious control. They are the procedural knowledge associated with a domain. Research indicates that solving problems in a domain relies on cognitive operations that are specific to that domain. They do not transfer from one content area to another.

3. Describe distinctions between well-defined and ill-defined problems Problems with complex representations and/or more than one solution are termed ill defined. Problems with discrete representations and finite goals are termed well defined. The distinction between ill defined and well defined is a continuum, based on the complexity of the problem and what is required cognitively to solve it.

4. Potential problems with domain-free problem solving strategies 1)Representation is big one. People get stuck often on only one way to look at problems. 2) functional fixedness-- can't see how an object could serve another purpose for PS. 3) Set effects--bias toward using a particular heuristic when it's not working. Or may be biased toward certain declarative knowledge that won't apply. 4) Incubation effects--when getting away from a problem for awhile results in an insight that leads to problem solution. 5)absence of relevant domain-specific knowledge--The biggest problem. 5. Recommendations for improving problem solving

Ways to acquire new problem solving operators Discovery, being told about them, or by observing someone else use them. Analogy

6. Describe the Stages of Skill Acquisition described in ACT theory and the characteristics of each stage. 1) declarative- Interpretive procedures that use general strategies to apply declarative knowledge. Can follow instructions, recipes or how-to diagrams, can use general problem solving methods, working backwards from goal state, listing sub-problems, searching for reason. Analogies work when two domains have shared features—take one problem solution and apply to another—can be very useful or can cause problems. Think something applies when it doesn’t. Need to see the connection—seems to be the biggest problem. This stage of learning is a slow process—heavy cognitive load on WM capacity—since declarative knowledge must be called into WM.  2) Procedural or Associative Stage- Knowledge compilation-...
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