Author: S. Ian Robertson
Table of Contents
PART I: Introduction. Introduction to the Study of Problem Solving. What is a Problem? Categorising
Problems. Methods of Investigating Problem Solving. About this Book: Three Issues in Problem Solving.
Summary. PART II: Problem Representation and Problem Solving Processes. Characterising Problem
Solving. The Information-processing Approach. Analysing Well-defined Problems. The Interaction of the
Problem Solver and the Task Environment. Heuristic Search Strategies. Summary. Strategies. Summary.
PROBLEM REPRESENTATION: THE CASE OF INSIGHT. Building a Problem Representation. Re-
representing Problems. Gestalt Accounts of Problen Solving. Information Processing Accounts of Insight.
The Relationship Between Insight Problems and Other Problems. Influencing Problem Representations -
The Effect of Instructions. Summary. PART III: Analogical Problem Solving. TRANSFER OF LEARNING.
Positive and Negative transfer. Set and Einstellung as Examples of Negative Transfer. Hypothesis Testing
Theory. Transfer in Well-defined Problems. Specific Transfer. General Transfer. What Kinds of Knowledge
Transfer? Summary. PROBLEM SIMILARITY. Types of Similarity. Relational Similarity. Structural
Similarity. Pragmatic Constraints. The Relation Between Surface and Structural Similarity. Summary.
ANALOGICAL PROBLEM SOLVING. The Importance of Analogising. Studies of Analogical Problem
Solving. Accessing a Source to Solve a Target. Generating Your Own Analogies. Expository Analogies.
'Aesthetic Analogies'. Summary. TEXTBOOK PROBLEM SOLVING. Difficulties Facing Textbook Writers.
The Role of Examples in Textbooks. The Processes Involved in Textboook Problem Solving. Laboratory
Studies of Within-domain and Textbook Problem Solving. Understanding Problems Revisited. The Role of
Diagrams and Pictures in Aiding Understanding. Providing a Schema in Texts. Summary. Part IV:
Learning and the Development of Expertise. EXPERTISE AND HOW TO ACQUIRE IT. Induction. Schema
Induction. Schema-based Knowledge. AI Models of Problem Solving and Learning. Skill Learning in ACT-
R. The Power Law of Learning. Criticisms of Production System Models. Neurological Evidence for the
Development of Procedural Knowledge. Summary. EXPERTS, NOVICES AND COMPLEX PROBLEM
SOLVING. What Distinguished Experts and Novices. Are Experts Smarter? Are There Differences in
Abilities? Skill Development. Knowledge Organisation. Cognitive Processes. Writing Expertise - A Case
Study. Summary. CONCLUSIONS. Problems, Problems. Problem Representation. Transfer. Learning.
Answers to Questions. Glossary. References. Name Index. Subject Index.
Problem solving is an integral part of everyday life yet few books are dedicated to this important aspect of
human cognition. In each case, the problem, such as solving a crossword or writing an essay, has a
goal. In this comprehensive and timely textbook, the author discusses the psychological processes
underlying such goal-directed problem solving, and examines both how we learn from experience of
problem solving and how our learning transfers (or often fails to transfer) from one situation to another.
Following initial coverage of the methods we use to solve unfamiliar problems, the book goes on to
examine the psychological processes involved in novice problem solving before progressing to the
methods and processes used by skilled problem solvers or "experts". Topics covered include: how we
generate a useful representation of a problem as a starting point; general problem solving strategies we
use in unfamiliar situations; possible processes involved in insight or lateral thinking; the nature of
problem similarity and the role of analogies in problem solving; understanding and learning from
textbooks; and how we develop expertise through the learning of specific problem solving skills.Clear, up-
to-date and accessible, Problem Solving will be of interest to undergraduates and postgraduates in
cognitive psychology, cognitive science, and educational psychology. The focus on the practical transfer
of learning through problem solving will also make it of relevance to educationalists and business
'... this text is very well written ... it explains the main ideas in the literature very clearly ... it is accurate
and up-to-date throughout. I would recommend it to my own students ...'
'The coverage of the book is very impressive. Every attempt is made to synthesize complex theories into
a single body of work without oversimplification.'