The effects of a teacher prescribed problem-solving pathway on novice problem-solvers in a chemistry classroom

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Montana State University - Bozeman, College of Letters & Science


Many high school chemistry students struggle developing the skill of problem solving. When faced with novel problems they often do not even know where to begin. This leads them to leave problems blank or partially completed and prevents them from spending the necessary time and effort wrestling with the problem. This study investigated a teacher prescribed problem solving pathway and its effect on the strategies that students used to solve problems. It also looked at the impact on the students' attitudes and confidence with problem solving. Documented Problem Solutions, confidence surveys, and a survey of strategies called I Do Not Understand Survey were used in conjunction with student work and reflections to determine if the treatment had any effect on the students' approach to problem solving. The results indicate that students incorporated most of the strategies used in the prescribed pathway and continued to use these strategies one-month post-treatment. Unfortunately, the study did not translate to improved attitudes and confidence toward problem solving. The students' reflections shed light on the number of students who feel some level of stress when confronted with a challenging problem.




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