Publication Details

Brickell, G. J., Ferry, B. & Harper, B. (2002). Developing informal reasoning skills in ill-structured environments: A case study into problem-solving strategies. Winds of Change in the Sea of Learning: Proceedings from the 19th Annual Conference of the Australasian Society for Computers in Learning in Tertiary Education (ASCILITE), 8-11 December 2002, Vol 1 (pp. 65-73). Auckland, New Zealand: UNITEC, Institute of Technology.


The issue of teaching broad-based thinking processes, rather than more contentspecific skills, continues with the emphasis on the development ofcognitive skills through the use of investigation, reflection and analysis, synthesis and evaluation to generate or refine knowledge. Such skills are more widely associated with the more complex ('higher order') learning strategies proposed by Bloom (1956) where thinking takes place in the upper levels of the cognitive processing hierarchy. It has been suggested by Jonassen (2000) that the development of these 'higher order' cognitive skills can be achieved through problem solving in environments that present tasks in ill-structured domains. Researchers experimenting with computerbased learning environments are attempting to scaffold learners during a cognitive task that is usually presented in the form of a problem. The scaffolding is provided in the form of a cognitive tool (Jonassen, 1996) that provides both cognitive and computational support to guide and assist the learner in defining the issues and developing strategies for problem solving and learning. This paper reports on a study that further examined the strategies used by learners in developing responses to ill-structured (Jonassen, 2000) or open-ended problems (Land & Hannafin, 1996). Based on this data it should be possible to develop specific cognitive tool(s) (Jonassen, 1996) that assist learners with problem identification, evaluation of evidence and the construction of a solution.

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