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Students' Cognitive Styles and Their Use of Problem-Solving Heuristics and Metacognitive Processes.

Horak, Virginia M.

Abstract: This study investigated junior high school students' use of problem-solving heuristics and metacognitive processes and the relationships that might exist between the students' use of these processes and their cognitive style. Using a computer microworld called "Nimbot" based on the ancient game of Nim, 10 seventh- and eighth-grade students' problem-solving heuristics and metacognitive activities were observed during game sessions via audiotape and a record of the student's key strokes. The various heuristics and metacognitive activities utilized were identified and listed. Cognitive style was measured as a score on the Group Embedded Figures Test to determine the students' location along the field-dependent-independent continuum. General conclusions related to heuristic utilization included: (1) junior high students use the heuristics of trial-and- error, look-for-a-pattern, draw-a-diagram, compare-and-contrast-data, account-for- all-possibilities, simplify-the-problem, break-set, and work-forward-in-solving-a- problem; (2) all but one student used the trial-and-error heuristic; and (3) all students utilized the work-forward heuristic. General conclusions related to metacognitive processes utilization include the following: (1) all students selected a strategy to help them understand the problem; (2) all students focused initially on not losing the game; (3) all students at times were inefficient in monitoring conclusions and generalizations they made while playing the game; and (4) none of the students utilized a highly nonproductive strategy. Interactions between the students' field-dependence-independence and their use of heuristics and metacognitive activities were noted. (16 references) (MDH)

Title: Students' Cognitive Styles and Their Use of Problem-Solving Heuristics and Metacognitive Processes.
Author: Horak, Virginia M.
Note: 16p.; Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (Salt Lake City, UT, April, 1990).
Publication Year: Apr 1990
Document Type: Research Report (143); Conference Paper (150)
Target Audience: Policymakers
ERIC Identifier: ED347069
Clearinghouse Identifier: SE052532
This document is available from the ERIC Document Reproduction Service.

Descriptors: * Cognitive Processes; * Cognitive Style; Computer Uses in Education; Games; * Heuristics; Junior High Schools; Mathematics Education; * Metacognition; * Problem Solving

Identifiers: Microworlds

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