Scheme and strategy in problem-solving

Year: 1994

Author: Curtis, David D., Lawson, Michael J.

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

We undertook a study in which we investigated the behaviours of students while they played a computer-based adventure game. In our analysis, we sought evidence of the use of a range of strategic behaviours-both general and specific to the domain-and evidence of the influence of students' schemas for the problem domain. We compared novice and experienced players in terms of their use of strategies, their access to schemas for these games, and their performances. We also compared the use of strategies and access to schemas of high- and low-performing students.

We found that experienced players had well-developed schemas but that they did not make greater use of general strategies than novices. Further, we found that high performers did make use of general strategies, but that schema did not influence performance. We report the results of our study, and compare them with published claims about the use of these games as environments for the development of problem- solving behaviours. We comment on the implications of our work for the use of these games in classrooms, and reflect on what we see as a perplexing lack of influence of our schema measures on performance.