How logical reasoning ability and empirical knowledge interact in the process of solving problems about light and vision among Taiwanese secondary school students
Contributor(s)Rosser, Rosemary A.
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AbstractPiagetian scholars argue that the effect of problem content, e.g., empirical knowledge, should decrease with age. Indeed, they believe that the empirical knowledge cannot affect human problem-solving after individuals approach the formal operation stage. In arguing this point, this study uses an A-AR model to address how empirical knowledge affects the problem-solving process among Taiwanese secondary students. The A-AR model is borrowed from mathematics and the symbols, A, A, and R, represent Assumption, Answering, and Reasoning, respectively. Similar to solving mathematics problems, the A-AR model problems require participants to use the given assumptions by logical reasoning in order to respond to the problems. In this situation, the effect of empirical knowledge on problem-solving is easy to detect. There are three results about human problem-solving found in this study. First, the empirical knowledge still affects human problem-solving at the formal operation stage. Not like the Piagetian scholars' assumption: the effect of empirical knowledge is decreasing with age, this study finds that the effect of empirical knowledge is S-shape. The S-shape is a result of academic training. Second, the academic training, major, shapes human problem-solving strategies. For instance, the 12th grade science students' problem-solving strategy is based on logical reasoning ability by the given assumptions and the same grade social science students' strategy is according of their empirical knowledge. Third, the interference of logical reasoning ability and empirical knowledge is a predictor of the empirical knowledge effect on human problem-solving. The relation between the empirical knowledge and interference can be characterized as: the more negative interference the participants have, the more of the empirical knowledge effect they will have in the next year. This study does not agree with the Piagetian theory about human problem-solving: the effect of empirical knowledge should decrease with age. Indeed, this study argues that the problem content still affects human problem-solving after individuals move into the formal operation stage. The different kinds of academic training---science and social science major---shape human problem-solving strategies into either a logical reasoning base or an empirical knowledge stand, respectively.