Categorization and representation of physics problems by experts and novices

Cognitive Science 5 (2):121-52 (1981)
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Abstract

The representation of physics problems in relation to the organization of physics knowledge is investigated in experts and novices. Four experiments examine the existence of problem categories as a basis for representation; differences in the categories used by experts and novices; differences in the knowledge associated with the categories; and features in the problems that contribute to problem categorization and representation. Results from sorting tasks and protocols reveal that experts and novices begin their problem representations with specifiably different problem categories, and completion of the representations depends on the knowledge associated with the categories. For, the experts initially abstract physics principles to approach and solve a problem representation, whereas novices base their representation and approaches on the problem's literal features

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