Problem Solving Abilities.
PITTSBURGH UNIV PA LEARNING RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT CENTER
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This report provides a general and brief introduction to the current state of our understanding of human problem solving. Over the years, psychologists have learned a lot about the nature of the problem solving process. The importance of the initial representation of a problem was discovered quite a few years ago by the Gestalt School in its examination of insight problems. The actual nature of initial representations and their influence on problem solving was made clear only in the last couple of decades, however, when the notion of a solution space was developed. There was a time, not too long ago, when researchers, especially those in artificial intelligence, thought that effective problem solving might be due mainly to general strategies for guiding search through problem spaces. Early attempts to create computer programs to solve problems, such as the General Problem Solver, took this approach. However, this straightforward picture of problem solving has recently been shown to be far too simple. Specific knowledge of a domain is of overriding importance in the effective solution of problems. In addition, this knowledge must be well-structured so that relevant knowledge can be accessed at the proper time. Research is beginning to uncover just what well-structured means, but considerable work is left to be done on the problem of how we are able to retrieve and use information in a rapid and effective manner.