NotesFAQContact Us
Search Tips
Peer reviewed Peer reviewed
Direct linkDirect link
ERIC Number: EJ989724
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2012-May
Pages: 19
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 77
ISSN: ISSN-0036-8326
Applying Catastrophe Theory to an Information-Processing Model of Problem Solving in Science Education
Stamovlasis, Dimitrios; Tsaparlis, Georgios
Science Education, v96 n3 p392-410 May 2012
In this study, we test an information-processing model (IPM) of problem solving in science education, namely the working memory overload model, by applying catastrophe theory. Changes in students' achievement were modeled as discontinuities within a cusp catastrophe model, where working memory capacity was implemented as asymmetry and the degree of field dependence/independence and logical thinking as bifurcation parameters. Data from achievement scores of high school students in nonalgorithmic problem solving (chemical, organic-synthesis problems) were used and analyzed, using dynamic difference equations and statistical regression techniques. The dependent measure was the score difference in problems of varying demand from M = 3 to M = 8. The cusp catastrophe models proved superior (R[squared] = 0.73-0.84) to the pre-post linear counterpart (R[squared] =0.52-0.66). The empirical evidence for the catastrophe effect supports the nonlinear model for the working memory overload hypothesis. The results add to research endeavors that built bridges between concepts of the theory of nonlinear dynamical systems and problem solving in science education, and to IPM as well. Finally, the theoretical and practical implications are discussed. (Contains 3 tables and 4 figures.)
Wiley Periodicals, Inc. 350 Main Street, Malden, MA 02148. Tel: 800-835-6770; Tel: 781-388-8598; Fax: 781-388-8232; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education; Grade 12; High Schools; Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Assessments and Surveys: Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale