Knowledge of problem situations in physics: A comparison of good and poor novice problem solvers

Ton de Jong, Monica G.M. Ferguson-Hessler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademic

28 Citations (Scopus)
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In this study we examined models of problem situations in the memory of good and poor novice students. Subjects were shown very briefly descriptions of physics problems, and after each exposure they were asked to reconstruct the given problem. The short exposure time forces students to rely on models of problem situations in memory for giving reconstructions. Presentation of situations, and reconstructions asked for, varied in modality (words, figures, or combinations). For a number of situations subjects were asked, after they had given a reconstruction, to write down information they thought necessary for solving the problems. Results showed that all students reconstructed important information better than less important information, so both good and poor students seem to have models of problem situations at their disposal. There were, however, also differences between the two groups. First, good students gave a better reconstruction of the question than weak students did. Second, when subjects were requested to change modality in reconstruction (from figure to words or vice versa), good students tended to reconstruct important information better than the weak students. Finally, good students outperformed the weak group in generating information concerning the solution of the problem
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)289-302
JournalLearning and instruction
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1991


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