Solving or attempting to solve problems is the typical and, hence, general function of thought. A theory of problem solving must first explain how the problem is constituted, and then how the solution happens, but also how it happens that it is not solved; it must explain the correct answer and with the same means the failure. The identification of the way in which the problem is formatted should help to understand how the solution of the problems happens, but even before that, the source of the difficulty. Sometimes the difficulty lies in the calculation, the number of operations to be performed, and the quantity of data to be processed and remembered. There are, however, other problems – the insight problems – in which the difficulty does not lie so much in the complexity of the calculations, but in one or more critical points that are susceptible to misinterpretation, incompatible with the solution. In our view, the way of thinking involved in insight problem solving is very close to the process involved in the understanding of an utterance, when a misunderstanding occurs. In this case, a more appropriate meaning has to be selected to resolve the misunderstanding (the “impasse”), the default interpretation (the “fixation”) has to be dropped in order to “restructure.” to grasp another meaning which appears more relevant to the context and the speaker’s intention (the “aim of the task”). In this article we support our view with experimental evidence, focusing on how a misunderstanding is formed. We have studied a paradigmatic insight problem, an apparent trivial arithmetical task, the Ties problem. We also reviewed other classical insight problems, reconsidering in particular one of the most intriguing one, which at first sight appears impossible to solve, the Study Window problem. By identifying the problem knots that alter the aim of the task, the reformulation technique has made it possible to eliminate misunderstanding, without changing the mathematical nature of the problem. With the experimental versions of the problems exposed we have obtained a significant increase in correct answers. Studying how an insight problem is formed, and not just how it is solved, may well become an important topic in education. We focus on undergraduate students’ strategies and their errors while solving problems, and the specific cognitive processes involved in misunderstanding, which are crucial to better exploit what could be beneficial to reach the solution and to teach how to improve the ability to solve problems.
Bagassi, M., Macchi, L. (2020). Creative Problem Solving as Overcoming a Misunderstanding. FRONTIERS IN EDUCATION, 5(538202), 110 [10.3389/feduc.2020.538202].
Creative Problem Solving as Overcoming a Misunderstanding
Bagassi M.;Macchi L.^{}
2020
Abstract
Solving or attempting to solve problems is the typical and, hence, general function of thought. A theory of problem solving must first explain how the problem is constituted, and then how the solution happens, but also how it happens that it is not solved; it must explain the correct answer and with the same means the failure. The identification of the way in which the problem is formatted should help to understand how the solution of the problems happens, but even before that, the source of the difficulty. Sometimes the difficulty lies in the calculation, the number of operations to be performed, and the quantity of data to be processed and remembered. There are, however, other problems – the insight problems – in which the difficulty does not lie so much in the complexity of the calculations, but in one or more critical points that are susceptible to misinterpretation, incompatible with the solution. In our view, the way of thinking involved in insight problem solving is very close to the process involved in the understanding of an utterance, when a misunderstanding occurs. In this case, a more appropriate meaning has to be selected to resolve the misunderstanding (the “impasse”), the default interpretation (the “fixation”) has to be dropped in order to “restructure.” to grasp another meaning which appears more relevant to the context and the speaker’s intention (the “aim of the task”). In this article we support our view with experimental evidence, focusing on how a misunderstanding is formed. We have studied a paradigmatic insight problem, an apparent trivial arithmetical task, the Ties problem. We also reviewed other classical insight problems, reconsidering in particular one of the most intriguing one, which at first sight appears impossible to solve, the Study Window problem. By identifying the problem knots that alter the aim of the task, the reformulation technique has made it possible to eliminate misunderstanding, without changing the mathematical nature of the problem. With the experimental versions of the problems exposed we have obtained a significant increase in correct answers. Studying how an insight problem is formed, and not just how it is solved, may well become an important topic in education. We focus on undergraduate students’ strategies and their errors while solving problems, and the specific cognitive processes involved in misunderstanding, which are crucial to better exploit what could be beneficial to reach the solution and to teach how to improve the ability to solve problems.File  Dimensione  Formato  

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