Toward a Unified Theory of Problem Solving: Views from the Content Domains

By Mike U. Smith | Go to book overview

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A VIEW FROM BIOLOGY

Mike U. Smith Mercer University


INTRODUCTION

This chapter is an attempt to critically analyze problem-solving research within the domain of biology, especially genetics, and to combine the conclusions of that analysis with a critical analysis of research in other disciplines so as to produce a unified theory of problem solving that would apply across content domains. This is truly a formidable task, and the result should be considered as only a first approximation of a statement of such a theory. The purpose of this work, therefore, is not to produce a definitive statement of a unified theory of problem solving, but to provide a target for discussion, criticism, and debate among problem-solving researchers and theorists. Such criticism is a routine and necessary part of the evolution of any theoretical construct.

Before any attempt is made to develop a statement of theory, one must first ask, what is a theory and how is the merit of a theory to be judged? According to Popper ( 1959), "Theories are [sets of] universal statements" (p. 27) or propositions. They serve two essential functions: explanation and prediction. Popper maintains that

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Toward a Unified Theory of Problem Solving: Views from the Content Domains
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Contents *
  • Preface *
  • 1 - A View from Biology 1
  • Acknowledgment 17
  • References 17
  • 2 - A View from Chemistry 21
  • References 32
  • 3 - A View from Medicine 35
  • References 43
  • 4 - A View from Programming 45
  • Acknowledgements 63
  • References 63
  • 5 - A View of Mathematical Problem Solving in School 69
  • Acknowledgements 95
  • References 95
  • 6 - A View from Physics 99
  • References 113
  • 7 - A View from Trouble-Shooting 115
  • References 148
  • Author Index 155
  • Subject Index 161
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