Information-processing load in problem solving by network search

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Studied the problem-solving strategies of 86 undergraduates. Ss learned a set of interrelated equations and then solved problems that required finding the link between a set of given variables and an unknown variable. In Exp I Ss learned either a strategy of working backward from the unknown or one of working foward from the givens. Strategy efficiency was affected not only by formal properties of the problems (such as length of solution) but also by memory requirements. In Exp II Ss used their own strategies, and the meaningfulness and “chunking” of the variables were manipulated by changing their labels. The strategies used depended on the labeling of the variables. A mixed strategy with both backward and foward steps was both most commonly used and most efficient with chunkable variables. Merely changing the labels of variables affected memory load and reduced the value of formerly efficient strategies. (11 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved)

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