Effects of Topic Familiarity on Analogical Transfer in Problem-Solving: A Think-Aloud Study of Two Singular Cases

2015 Eurasia Journal of Mathematics, Science and Technology Education  
We conducted a qualitative research of case studies based on think-aloud protocols. The aim was to carry out in-depth analyse secondary students' cognitive difficulties appearing in early stages of transfer processes in problem-solving. The task was to relate several source problems to a target problem, in order to solve it effectively. Source and target problems had different Surface and/or Structural similarities. In this paper, the solvers' high or low Familiarity with the problem stories on
more » ... problem stories on transfer processes was also focused on. Two emergent instructional phenomena are described, both associated to specific students' cognitive obstacles to achieve success in solving the target problem: the 'Screen effect' and the 'Sisyphus effect'. The obstacles were harder for low Familiarity problems. Keywords: science and mathematics education, problem solving, analogical transfer, surface and structure, familiarity, think-aloud protocols 1985; Nathan, Kintsch and Young, 1992; Greeno, 1989) proposed several levels: Word level; Semantic level; Situation Model, or referential level (SM onwards) and Problem Model, or abstract level (PM onwards). The integration of the semantic content with prior knowledge is necessary to build the top representations, SM and PM. They both differ in their constituents. SM is made from non-abstract, ordinary world objects and events, and also world rules, whereas PM is made from abstract entities as relations among quantities, functions, concepts, laws, principles, etc. Resolution implies connecting SM and PM in particular and defined ways. As SM is usually easier to build than PM, the instructional work mainly focus on this SMPM transition, called 'algebraic translation' when problems are of algebraic nature (Puig, 1998; Sanjosé, Solaz-Portolés and Valenzuela, 2009; Polotskaia, Savard, & Freiman, 2015) . A well-known and wide-used instructional strategy in problem-solving is "analogical transfer" (Hammer, Elby, Scherr
doi:10.12973/eurasia.2015.1416a fatcat:qlif7injdvhfzdz5u2u7yjap2q