An exploratory study into the cognitive and behavioural influences on problem solving performance.
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It is widely accepted that spatial cognition plays a critical role in STEM educational success. However, while this relationship has shown to relate to educational factors such as success and retention, it does not offer any insight into the nature of the learning experience received by students or of any associated problem solving behaviours. This exploratory study was designed to examine the potential relationship between both cognitive factors and behavioural factors within problem solving. The study was conducted with a cohort of Initial Technology Teacher Education students (n=10) and utilised a battery of spatial skills psychometric tests as well as a series of experimentally designed physical tasks. A think-aloud protocol was employed during the physical tasks to elicit better insights into the behavioural factors involved. Findings illustrate the potential impact that emotions and task inherent feedback can have on performance as well as identifying the use of heuristics in problem solving. This is then discussed in terms of their implications for future research and STEM educational practices.
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