Problem-similarity recognition and problem-solving success in high school chemistry

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Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

This was an investigation of the differences in student recognition of problem similarity in high school chemistry, the relation of problem-similarity recognition to problem-solving success, and the improvement in problem-solving success subsequent to consideration of problem similarity.

Tests developed for this study were used to measure initial problem-solving success, problem-similarity recognition using a 4-point context-to-structure scale, and final problem-solving success. The sequence of measurements was: (1) problem-similarity recognition prior to writing problem solutions, (2) problem-solving success, (3) problem-similarity recognition after writing problem solutions, (4) problem-similarity recognition after being given problem solutions by the teacher, and (5) problem-solving success.

Analyses of the data indicated that the most successful problem solvers differed from the moderately successful and the least successful problem solvers in their tendency to recognize problem similarity according to structure rather than context. Additionally, the most successful as well as the least successful problem solvers improved in problem-solving success subsequent to their consideration of problem similarity.

Recommendations for instruction and for additional studies are included.