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ERIC Number: EJ1148208
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2017-Sep
Pages: 8
Abstractor: As Provided
ISBN: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-1043-4046
EISSN: N/A
Cognitive Flexibility and Undergraduate Physiology Students: Increasing Advanced Knowledge Acquisition within an Ill-Structured Domain
Rhodes, Ashley E.; Rozell, Timothy G.
Advances in Physiology Education, v41 n3 p375-382 Sep 2017
Cognitive flexibility is defined as the ability to assimilate previously learned information and concepts to generate novel solutions to new problems. This skill is crucial for success within ill-structured domains such as biology, physiology, and medicine, where many concepts are simultaneously required for understanding a complex problem, yet the problem consists of patterns or combinations of concepts that are not consistently used or needed across all examples. To succeed within ill-structured domains, a student must possess a certain level of cognitive flexibility: rigid thought processes and prepackaged informational retrieval schemes relying on rote memorization will not suffice. In this study, we assessed the cognitive flexibility of undergraduate physiology students using a validated instrument entitled Student's Approaches to Learning (SAL). The SAL evaluates how deeply and in what way information is processed, as well as the investment of time and mental energy that a student is willing to expend by measuring constructs such as elaboration and memorization. Our results indicate that students who rely primarily on memorization when learning new information have a smaller knowledge base about physiological concepts, as measured by a prior knowledge assessment and unit exams. However, students who rely primarily on elaboration when learning new information have a more well-developed knowledge base about physiological concepts, which is displayed by higher scores on a prior knowledge assessment and increased performance on unit exams. Thus students with increased elaboration skills possibly possess a higher level of cognitive flexibility and are more likely to succeed within ill-structured domains.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research; Tests/Questionnaires
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A