Predictors of well-structured and ill-structured problem solving in an astronomy simulation

Namsoo Shin*, David H. Jonassen, Steven McGee

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

212 Scopus citations


This study compared the problem-solving skills required for solving well-structured problems and ill-structured problems in the context of an open-ended, multimedia problem-solving environment in astronomy. Two sets of open-ended questions assessed students' abilities for solving well-structured and ill-structured problems. Generalized, rubric scoring systems were developed for assessing problem-solving skills. Instruments were also developed and administered to assess cognitive and affective predictors of problem-solving performance. By regressing the scores on the cognitive and affective predictors onto students' scores on the well-structured and ill-structured problems, we concluded that solving well-structured and ill-structured problems require different component skills. Domain knowledge and justification skills were significant predictors of well-structured problem-solving scores, whereas ill-structured problem-solving scores were significantly predicted by domain knowledge, justification skills, science attitudes, and regulation of cognition. Implications for problem solving in science education are presented.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6-33
Number of pages28
JournalJournal of Research in Science Teaching
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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