Problem Solving: Current Issues

Problem Solving: Current Issues

Problem Solving: Current Issues

Problem Solving: Current Issues

Synopsis

An up-to-date, in-depth treatment of the major current issues, theories and findings. It introduces a representative selection of different research methods and the reader is encouraged, by means of activities and self-assessment questions, to become an active participant in cognitive psychology. In particular, the student is introduced to problem solving by working through actual problems and so is able to test and develop theoretical frameworks by "hands on" experience. The first edition of this book established itself as an innovative and accessible introduction to problem solving. This second edition has been extensively rewritten to take account of the latest research developments in the subject. The first of three main parts considers the analysis of problem structures and the strategies used in solving problems, exploring the concept of humans as active processors of information. This leads, in the second part, to an examination of the role of previous experience in solving (new) problems, and of the use of computers to model the processes involved in problem solving and learning. The final part looks at recent research on "intelligence" by cognitive psychologists. The processes underlying behaviour on a subset of intellgence-test tasks are examined and the question of whether or not intelligence can be trained is explored - in particular whether training on particular intelligence-test tasks generalizes to different situations, such as classroom performance.

Excerpt

This book is divided into three parts. Part I discusses early research on problem solving by cognitive psychologists. The aim is to introduce you to some of the tools that were developed during this period for carrying out problem-solving research. Part I introduces one of the main themes of the book, which concerns the effects of experience in learning and problem solving. Part I also presents a very influential theory of human problem solving, devised by H.A. Simon, which depicts man as an active processor of information. Parts II and III discuss modifications or elaborations of Simon's information-processing model, exploring the role and limits of cognitive representations and processes in learning to solve problems.

In Part II we turn again to questions about the role of previous experience in problem solving. Here we shall consider some of the mechanisms that psychologists have suggested are involved in identifying and utilizing past experience in solving new problems. Part II also considers recent research on problem solving by novices and experts in various domains of knowledge, and computer implementations of the types of processes involved in problem solving and learning.

Part III considers recent research on 'intelligence' by cognitive psychologists. We discuss the processes underlying behaviour on a subset of intelligence test tasks, and explore the question of whether or not intelligence can be 'trained'. Of particular importance is the question of whether or not training on particular intelligence test tasks generalizes to different situations, such as performance in the classroom.

There are, however, topics of major interest to psychologists interested in thinking and learning that are not covered in this book. The major omissions are studies of rational and irrational reasoning processes. There is a huge literature on the topic of logical reasoning and I recommend the following books as good introductions to these areas of research. First, there is Richard E. Mayer's text on problem solving called Thinking, Problem Solving, Cognition, published by W.H. Freeman, 1983. This text not only discusses research on deductive and inductive reasoning, but also provides a very good coverage of the historical roots of the cognitive approach to problem solving. There is a long section devoted to considering the applications and implications of the cognitive approach. A good introduction to issues in the study of human deductive and inductive reasoning, as well as a personal view of the nature of biases in reasoning by an eminent researcher in the field, is Jonathan St B.T. Evans's Bias in Human Reasoning, Causes . . .

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