Move evaluationasa predictor and moderator of success in solutions to well-structured problems

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This paper presents three studies concerned with the evaluation of moves in solutions to Tower of Hanoi problems and the effect that such evaluation processes have on solution success. The existing literature on problem solving suggests that verbalizing whilst solving a problemcan havea positive effect upon performance. However,such verbalization has to be directed toward an explicit evaluation of particular moves. What remains unclear is whether evaluation without verbalization has the same effects or whether some characteristic of the process of verbalization gives rise to improved performance on such tasks. For example, the act of verbalizing per se may simply mean that more processing time is directed toward the problem-solving process. The studies reported in this paper suggest that the process of evaluation may be independent of verbalization processes and that non-verbal evaluation of moves (indicated by a key press) produces the same effects as a verbal evaluation of such moves. Moreover, the process of evaluating moves appears to producea form of behaviour that is prone to disruption via the administration of secondary tasks, whereas non-evaluated solutions are not. This may suggest that problem solvers who engage in evaluation processes develop an explicit representation of the strategies used to solve the problem.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: University of Hull, Hull, U.K.

Publication date: November 1, 2000

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