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Problem-Solving and Expertise

The research paper under review is a study conducted by Molnár and Csapó (2018) to investigate problem-solving strategies students engage in their compulsory schooling life. This research was intended to analyze the first phase of problem-solving concerning how students arrive at given solutions. The rationale behind the study is the continuous growth and increase in technology, which has concomitantly led to a rise in the application of computers in solving cryptic challenges (Molnár & Csapó, 2018). Problem-solving skills are a critical component in today’s world, and coming up with a plausible mechanism to certain challenges facilitates a smooth continuation when novel problems arise.

The research entails several questions around which hypotheses have been formed to, in a way, achieve the ends of the study. The first research question is whether using a theoretically effective tactic results in outstanding performance. The other research question is if all “Vary One Thing At a Time” (VOTAT) approaches culminate in a high-level CPS performance (Molnár & Csapó, 2018). Furthermore, the other questions are: whether awareness of an exploration strategy has a tolling effect on the general performance of CPS activities; which profiles typify the disparate problem solvers and explorers; and if there is a difference in exploration strategies across grade levels in compulsory schooling.

One of the theories used in the research is Paget’s theory of cognitive development. This theory asserts a continuous change in a child’s mental development in four phases. This theory is not only on knowledge acquisition but also on understanding the nature of intelligence. The research by Molnár and Csapó (2018) explains the course of a child’s scientific reasoning in tandem with Piaget’s theory. The authors agree with Piaget’s theory, and they further proceed to expand on it while elucidating their concepts. The other theory used is the Cognitive Load theory. This theory postulates that human information processing comprises working memory, sensory memory, and long-term memory. The essence of this theory in the study entails measuring students’ reasoning tasks. Moreover, the authors also agreed with the conceptions of the Cognitive Load Theory as it was used to define how many inputs and output variables were needed.

The research is operationalized by using the VOTAT strategy. This method is used to achieve a causal structure for the variables used in the research. One of the abstract constructs in the research is the children’s mental problem representations. System knowledge was used to depict varying levels of mental problem representations to cover the measurement of this sort. The first independent variable (IV) is expert exploration behavior, while its dependent variable (DV) is a high problem-solving achievement. The other IV is isolated variation strategy, while the DV is better overall performance.

The research design involves an experimental approach whereby the participants are asked to partake in a series of activities to gauge their problem-solving capabilities. The variables are in nominal and ratio scales. The nominal scale measures problem solving per given task assigning either a correct or incorrect response. Furthermore, the ratio scale is used in assigning the cumulative score after a series of questions. On another note, the findings refuted the theory that using a theoretically effective approach would always lead to high performance. CPS performance ranged from 20 to 80 percent as a factor of age, the complexity of the CSP activities, and the degree to which the students used certain approaches. Furthermore, one of the study’s limitations was the small sample size of secondary school pupils. It would be impossible to guarantee the reliability of study discoveries with a small sample size.


Molnár, G., & Csapó, B. (2018). The efficacy and development of students’ problem-solving strategies during compulsory schooling: Logfile analyses. Frontiers in Psychology9, 302.


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