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Do Students Who Know More Solve Problems More Successfully?

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2002 Annual Conference


Montreal, Canada

Publication Date

June 16, 2002

Start Date

June 16, 2002

End Date

June 19, 2002



Conference Session

Understanding Students: Cognition

Page Count


Page Numbers

7.439.1 - 7.439.7



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Paper Authors

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Cindy Finelli

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In this paper, the relationship between a student’s knowledge base and his or her problem solving ability is studied. In particular, results from a new quiz approach in which the two characteristics are decoupled as much as possible are presented. The approach reformats the standard quiz to include two related parts; one which asks students to express the depths of their knowledge about a particular topic using words, and one which involves solving a short computational problem. The approach was studied across different universities, with different instructors, and in different electrical engineering courses, and the results indicate that a student’s knowledge base and his or her problem solving ability are correlated despite the different populations. Aside from the intuitively obvious relationship between these characteristics, this implies that students who limit their understanding to computational procedures tend to do more poorly than students who are able to extract other information from lectures and homework assignments. When such data is shown to students, instructors will have tools for coaching students on information extraction in the cognitive domain.

Finelli, C. (2002, June), Do Students Who Know More Solve Problems More Successfully? Paper presented at 2002 Annual Conference, Montreal, Canada. 10.18260/1-2--11201

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