Summary and Keywords
Problem solving refers to cognitive processing directed at achieving a goal when the problem solver does not initially know a solution method. A problem exists when someone has a goal but does not know how to achieve it. Problems can be classified as routine or non-routine, and as well-defined or ill-defined. The major cognitive processes in problem solving are representing, planning, executing, and monitoring. The major kinds of knowledge required for problem solving are facts, concepts, procedures, strategies, and beliefs. The theoretical approaches that have developed over the history of research on problem are associationism, Gestalt, and information processing. Each of these approaches involves fundamental issues in problem solving such as the nature of transfer, insight, and goal-directed heuristics, respectively. Some current research topics in problem solving include decision making, intelligence and creativity, teaching of thinking skills, expert problem solving, analogical reasoning, mathematical and scientific thinking, everyday thinking, and the cognitive neuroscience of problem solving. Common theme concerns the domain specificity of problem solving and a focus on problem solving in authentic contexts.
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