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Title: Strategy selection in mental arithmetic problem solving : a case for adaptive, not automatic selection
Author: McKenzie-Kerr, Alastair
ISNI:       0000 0004 2750 4073
Awarding Body: Cardiff University
Current Institution: Cardiff University
Date of Award: 2007
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The present thesis examined the processes responsible for strategy selection in problem-solving tasks. Despite the salience of this mechanism there has been a dearth in empirical research in the paradigm. Existing accounts, primarily modelled upon simulations of data sets, propose that strategies are not selected per se, but problems are solved by an automatic attempt to retrieve a solution (the Automaticity account Logan, 1988 2002). Contrary to this account four studies presented in the first empirical series demonstrated that predicted retrieve/calculate selections could be made rapidly (within 850 ms) and accurately. This indicated that problem-solving comprises two dissociable phases, selection then solution. Selection was found to be sensitive to the familiarity of a problem and also specific problem features supporting an account in which selection may be determined by the type of problem and the context in which the problem is solved (the Adaptive account Reder & Ritter, 1992 Siegler & Araya, 2005). Elucidating the mechanisms responsible for these effects, in the second empirical series, three issues representative of real-world problem-solving episodes were examined. When multiple cues to selection were available, the interplay between the cues either served to inhibit the effects of both cues, or facilitated the effect of one cue at the expense of the other. Problem familiarity effects were attributed to implicit procedures as these effects were apparently un-reliant upon conscious processes (Reder & Ritter, 1992 Schunn et al, 1997). However, the feature identification process, rather than the selection mechanism itself, was found to be reliant upon consciously directed processes (Siegler & Araya, 2005). The findings from these studies were used to evaluate existing accounts of strategy selection, and reflecting limitations in these models, candidate mechanisms are proposed to account for the key effects revealed in this thesis.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available