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Physical Review Special Topics - Physics Education Research
Choosing the right solution approach: The crucial role of situational knowledge in electricity and magnetism
written by Elwin R. Savelsbergh, Ton de Jong, and Monica G. M. Ferguson-Hessler
Novice problem solvers are rather sensitive to surface problem features, and they often resort to trial and error formula matching rather than identifying an appropriate solution approach. These observations have been interpreted to imply that novices structure their knowledge according to surface features rather than according to problem type categories. However, it may also be the case that novices do know problem types, but cannot map the problem at hand to a known type, because they fail to create a sufficiently well-elaborated problem representation. This study aims to distinguish between these explanations. In this study novice physics students at high and low levels of proficiency completed two problem-sorting tasks from the domain of electricity and magnetism, one with and one without elaboration support. Results confirm that these students do distinguish problem types in accordance with their required solution approaches, and that their problem-sorting performance improves with elaboration support. Therefore, it was concluded that their major difficulty lies in the process of matching concrete problems to a proper category. Within-group analysis revealed that the performance of proficient novices clearly improved with elaboration support, whereas the effect for less proficient novices remained inconclusive. The latter finding is explained from the less proficient novices' problem representations being too fragmented to integrate new information. These results suggest that, in order to promote schema-based problem solving, instruction in the domain of electricity and magnetism should be based not so much on restructuring the conceptual knowledge base but rather on enriching situational knowledge.
1 supplemental document is available
Subjects Levels Resource Types
Education - Basic Research
- Learning Theory
= Representations
- Problem Solving
= Expert-Novice Comparisons
= Representational Use
- Student Characteristics
= Skills
Electricity & Magnetism
- General
- Lower Undergraduate
- Graduate/Professional
- Reference Material
= Research study
PER-Central Type Intended Users Ratings
- PER Literature
- Researchers
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Format:
application/pdf
Mirror:
https://doi.org/10.1103/PhysRevST…
Access Rights:
Free access
License:
This material is released under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 license.
Rights Holder:
American Physical Society
DOI:
10.1103/PhysRevSTPER.7.010103
PACS:
01.40.Fk
Keywords:
Problem Representation, Problem Solving, Trail and Error
Record Creator:
Metadata instance created May 1, 2012 by Lyle Barbato
Record Updated:
May 9, 2012 by Vince Kuo
Last Update
when Cataloged:
March 28, 2011
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Record Link
AIP Format
E. Savelsbergh, T. De Jong, and M. Ferguson-Hessler, , Phys. Rev. ST Phys. Educ. Res. 7 (1), 010103 (2011), WWW Document, (https://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=11943&DocID=2751).
AJP/PRST-PER
E. Savelsbergh, T. De Jong, and M. Ferguson-Hessler, Choosing the right solution approach: The crucial role of situational knowledge in electricity and magnetism, Phys. Rev. ST Phys. Educ. Res. 7 (1), 010103 (2011), <https://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=11943&DocID=2751>.
APA Format
Savelsbergh, E., De Jong, T., & Ferguson-Hessler, M. (2011, March 28). Choosing the right solution approach: The crucial role of situational knowledge in electricity and magnetism. Phys. Rev. ST Phys. Educ. Res., 7(1), 010103. Retrieved September 28, 2022, from https://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=11943&DocID=2751
Chicago Format
Savelsbergh, E, T. De Jong, and M. Ferguson-Hessler. "Choosing the right solution approach: The crucial role of situational knowledge in electricity and magnetism." Phys. Rev. ST Phys. Educ. Res. 7, no. 1, (March 28, 2011): 010103, https://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=11943&DocID=2751 (accessed 28 September 2022).
MLA Format
Savelsbergh, Elwin, Ton De Jong, and Monica Ferguson-Hessler. "Choosing the right solution approach: The crucial role of situational knowledge in electricity and magnetism." Phys. Rev. ST Phys. Educ. Res. 7.1 (2011): 010103. 28 Sep. 2022 <https://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=11943&DocID=2751>.
BibTeX Export Format
@article{ Author = "Elwin Savelsbergh and Ton De Jong and Monica Ferguson-Hessler", Title = {Choosing the right solution approach: The crucial role of situational knowledge in electricity and magnetism}, Journal = {Phys. Rev. ST Phys. Educ. Res.}, Volume = {7}, Number = {1}, Pages = {010103}, Month = {March}, Year = {2011} }
Refer Export Format

%A Elwin Savelsbergh %A Ton De Jong %A Monica Ferguson-Hessler %T Choosing the right solution approach: The crucial role of situational knowledge in electricity and magnetism %J Phys. Rev. ST Phys. Educ. Res. %V 7 %N 1 %D March 28, 2011 %P 010103 %U https://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=11943&DocID=2751 %O application/pdf

EndNote Export Format

%0 Journal Article %A Savelsbergh, Elwin %A De Jong, Ton %A Ferguson-Hessler, Monica %D March 28, 2011 %T Choosing the right solution approach: The crucial role of situational knowledge in electricity and magnetism %J Phys. Rev. ST Phys. Educ. Res. %V 7 %N 1 %P 010103 %8 March 28, 2011 %U https://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=11943&DocID=2751


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The AIP Style presented is based on information from the AIP Style Manual.

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