Cognitive Process Instruction: Research on Teaching Thinking Skills

By Jack Lochhead; John Clement | Go to book overview

Engineering Student Problem Solving

Lois B. Greenfield

The engineer has earned his reputation as a problem solver. Where does he learn this skill? Surely if one were to look in on most engineering classrooms in this country, one would find both students and teachers concerned with the solution of problems. In what ways do engineering educators teach problem-solving skills to their students? Do they, in fact, make special efforts to teach such skills?

First, I would like to emphasize the difference between the product of problem solving, i.e. the answer or solution to a problem, and the process of problem solving, or the method of attack on a problem. The answer or solution to a problem is readily observed, and can be quantified. The engineering student's homework solutions can be graded, and marked right or wrong. Emphasis is placed on accuracy of the answer, but the method of solution may be equally important. In the "real world" a variety of answers may satisfy the problem conditions-- indeed, two engineers may look at a problem and develop two completely different solutions to what they have seen and identified as two completely different problems.

Although it is possible to infer the process or method of attack used in solving a problem from the product or answer, the conclusion may be misleading. For example, if an engineering student gets the wrong answer to a problem on a test, can we determine the reason for the error? Do we know whether the student has used the wrong formula, made an error in arithmetic, neglected an important bit of data, lacked knowledge of necessary facts, or completely misinterpreted the nature of the problem he was asked to solve? The reason for error may be none of these; or the student may have been so upset by the examination and all that hinged on his performance, that he was unable to demonstrate what he knew.

The instructor may try to infer the process of problem solution from the product obtained by means of statistical techniques. It is possible to determine which questions on the test are most difficult, as well as the order of difficulty. Particularly in objective kinds of tests, it is possible to determine the number of students who get a problem wrong if it is presented in one fashion, and the number who get it wrong when it is presented differently. It is possible to ascertain the wrong answer most frequently given to a particular problem. From such data, the instructor can attempt to figure out why a particular question is difficult, or why he thinks it would be difficult for him if he didn't know how to solve it. The instructor cannot, however, be sure that he is not going beyond the implications of his data. He cannot know with certainty why one answer was preferred above another, where the student might have gone astray in his reasoning, whether the student misinterpreted the question he was being asked, or

-229-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this book

This book has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this book

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Cognitive Process Instruction: Research on Teaching Thinking Skills
Table of contents

Table of contents

Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
/ 348

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.