Sternberg's (1985) triarchic theory of human intelligence distinguished among three types of intellectual abilities: analytic, creative, and practical. Our study explored the relationships between student abilities and the cognitive and attitudinal outcomes that resulted from student immersion in a computer-based inquiry environment. In particular, we examined outcome variables related to content understanding, problem solving, and science-related attitudes. Results indicated that more practical abilities predicted greater content understanding and transfer of problem-solving skills. High analytic abilities were predictive of content understanding but not transfer of problem-solving skills. High creative abilities predicted problem solving, but were not predictive of performance on content understanding. In terms of science-related attitudes, students who were dominant in practical abilities had significantly more positive posttest attitudes than those dominant in analytic abilities. The results from this study were used to make recommendations regarding design principles used in the subsequent development of computer-based inquiry environments.
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