Problem Solving Ability

The most significant direction to pursue in predicting students’ ability to learn computer programming skills seems to come from the area of assessing problem solving ability. However, not every logical skill or ability is an equally reliable predictor. The pre-study survey included 12 questions related to logical problem solving and critical thinking ability. These tests can be grouped into a number of categories:

Gaming Problems

These are questions in which the thinker is asked to calculate the probability or optimum cost or benefit from a course of action or to be consistent in their calculation of this benefit.

Problems 1, 3, 5, and 8

Decision Trees

The thinker constructs and works through a decision tree that allows the participant to pose the necessary questions to determine the truth of the entire network. These are the Boolean paradigms discussed by Goodwin and Johnson-Laird (2010) or the disjunctive problems identified by Toplak and Stanovich (2002).

Problems 2, 7, and 10

Rule Based Deduction

The thinker applies formal inferential logic, rule based analysis or what Newstead et al. call “Analytical Reasoning” (2006), or basic algebra to solve the problem.

Problems 4, 6 and 12

Problem Modeling

The thinker takes the problem text and envisioning the problem in such a way that a mental model or schema forms that allows them to envision the problem in a new way. They then find the solution almost trivial to solve.

Problems 9 and 11