How Do Students Solve Problems? In Response to the Deans for Impact Report, The Science of Learning

Yolanda Kennedy, Tracey Carney, Joey Moree


This article explores the third Key Question presented by the 2015 Deans for Impact (DFI) report, “How do students solve problems?” The DFI authors noted working memory and long-term memory as critical to solving problems cognitively. Additionally, the DFI authors found feedback to be an important part of the problem-solving process. This paper examines the literature used to support the two principles and provides additional information from a review of current literature to further strengthen each of the cognitive principles presented by the DFI report (2015). The literature revealed that a major component of problem solving is the cognitive process. Examining how self-regulated learning and cognitive load theory impact problem solving provides the necessary support to justify the importance and application of the cognitive principles presented in the report.


Problem solving, cognitive science, self-regulation, effective feedback, science of learning

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This journal is a publication of the CEME at UNC Charlotte