A complexity theory model in science education problem solving: random walks for working memory and mental capacity (Journal article)

Stamovlasis, D./ Tsaparlis, G.


The present study examines the role of limited human channel capacity from a science education perspective. A model of science problem solving has been previously validated by applying concepts and tools of complexity theory (the working memory, random walk method). The method correlated the subjects' rank-order achievement scores in organic-synthesis chemistry problems with the subjects' working memory capacity. In this work, we apply the same nonlinear approach to a different data set, taken from chemical-equilibrium problem solving. In contrast to the organic-synthesis problems, these problems are algorithmic, require numerical calculations, and have a complex logical structure. As a result, these problems cause deviations from the model, and affect the pattern observed with the nonlinear method. In addition to Baddeley's working memory capacity, the Pascual-Leone's mental (M-) capacity is examined by the same random-walk method. As the complexity of the problem increases, the fractal dimension of the working memory random walk demonstrates a sudden drop, while the fractal dimension of the M-capacity random walk decreases in a linear fashion. A review of the basic features of the two capacities and their relation is included. The method and findings have consequences for problem solving not only in chemistry and science education, but also in other disciplines.
Institution and School/Department of submitter: Πανεπιστήμιο Ιωαννίνων. Σχολή Θετικών Επιστημών. Τμήμα Χημείας
Keywords: Adolescent,Chemical Phenomena,Chemistry,Greece,Humans,*Memory,Mental Processes,Models, Psychological,*Problem Solving,Science/*education,Students
URI: http://olympias.lib.uoi.gr/jspui/handle/123456789/10001
ISSN: 1090-0578
Link: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12876434
Appears in Collections:Άρθρα σε επιστημονικά περιοδικά ( Ανοικτά)

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