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

By Mike U. Smith | Go to book overview

3
A VIEW FROM MEDICINE

Guy J. Groen Vimla L. Patel McGill University

The development of theories of problem solving in educational contexts can be approached from two directions, frequently achieving different results. One approach is to directly examine the teaching of problem solving in practical situations and then to generalize from the task and domain specificity that inevitably arises. Ile second approach is to begin with a general theory and discover how it applies in specific domains. These two approaches tend to yield different results because the level of specificity tends to determine what is easy or hard to examine. Thus, in the first approach, a theory based on arithmetic may focus on quite different issues from a theory based on geometry. This issue is particularly exacerbated in medicine because the domain is organized into a complex hierarchy of specialties and subspecialties which are all connected to certain types of general knowledge that is generally assumed to be required of all practitioners. For medicine, therefore, it is useful to consider the second approach.

There exists in the literature of cognitive psychology a theory of problem solving for which a considerable amount of generality has been claimed. This is the approach developed primarily by Herbert Simon, Alan Newell, and their colleagues at Carnegie Mellon University( Ericsson & Simon, 1984; Greeno & Simon, 1988 Newell & Simon, 1972). Its most recent incarnation, in Newell's SOAR system

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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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