Cognitive Science: Contributions to Educational Practice

By Marlin L. Languis; Daniel J. Martin et al. | Go to book overview

Chapter XVIII
Mediator use during an Inferential
Problem-Solving Task: Medical
Diagnosis

Lynn Kerbeshian

Studies of reasoning in two diverse age groups suggest that successful problem-solving depends primarily on the ability to combine the essentials of isolated experiences to generate an inference. This ability enables an individual to evaluate past hypotheses and generate new ones in view of information received during learning. Medical diagnosis is selected as an example of adult problem-solving and examined using an inferential model of reasoning. Suggestions for improving performance through manipulation of internal covert cues, or mediators, are discussed.


Inferential Processing

Inference may be defined as “the ability to integrate memorydependent, temporarily disparate informational sequences in order to eliminate invalid hypotheses and to generate new and more appropriate ones concerning the solution to a problem” (Daehler, 1972, p. 324). Inferential ability thus allows the formation of new experience through the reorganization of past experience. As a criterion of reasoning, this definition has been applied to a wide spectrum of capabilities from animal behavior to human logic, and studies of problem-solving in diverse age groups have confirmed that successful problem-solving depends primarily on the ability to combine the essentials of isolated experiences. Although age- and task

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