Assessing problem-solving strategy use by engineering undergraduates

Roman Taraban, Edward E. Anderson, John Richard Schumacher, Hani Dulli, David Lamp

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review


Problem-solving strategies are the deliberate mental steps that a person takes to proceed in specific ways at various points during problem solution in order to analyze, solve, and reflect on a problem. Engineering undergraduates enrolled in physics and thermodynamics reported the frequency of use of problem-solving strategies, confidence in their ability to solve problems, and answered demographic questions. Measures of performance included course grades. Factor-analytic methods that were applied to students' reports of strategy use identified three types of strategies, which were labeled Execution, Planning and Looking Back, and Low Confidence in Ability. The three factors were significant predictors of course performance, based on correlation and regression methods that were applied to the data. The study provides evidence that using problem-solving strategies improves course performance and that low confidence is a hindrance to successful performance. Differences in the roles of problem-solving strategies for engineering students in physics compared to thermodynamics suggest that students use these strategies differently in those courses.

Original languageEnglish
JournalASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings
StatePublished - Jun 15 2019
Event126th ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition: Charged Up for the Next 125 Years, ASEE 2019 - Tampa, United States
Duration: Jun 15 2019Jun 19 2019


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