INDIVIDUAL DIFFERENCES IN THE PROCESS OF SOLVING PROBLEMS: COMPUTER FLOW CHARTING AND RELATIVE MOTION TASKS
NAVAL PERSONNEL RESEARCH ACTIVITY SAN DIEGO CA
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The exploratory study was aimed at developing methods and hypotheses about how individuals solve complex problems involved in Navy instruction. Particular attention was given to instances where individuals were required to solve problems with requirements that were inconsistent with their most highly developed skills and aptitudes, e.g., individuals with high verbal aptitude required to solve problems which were mainly mathematical in nature. For only three of the six types of problems used in the study was it possible to observe and categorize the problem-solving activity. One purpose of this study therefore--comparison of problem-solving activity across tasks of different types--could not be achieved. Among three types of problem for which processes were observable and could be categorized, the processes for one, Concept Attainment, were sufficiently different from the other two to make clear that problem-solving strategies vary from task to task and may even be specific to a single type of task. For two tasks, Flow Charting and Relative Motion problems, responses were categorized in a manner descriptive of the processes used in working on them. Major findings were the marked differences in approaches or strategies for solving these problems by groups differing in verbal-mathematical aptitude patterns.
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