Scaffolding Students' Problem-Solving Processes on an Ill-Structured Task Using Question Prompts and Peer Interactions

Open Access
Ge, Xun
Graduate Program:
Instructional Systems
Doctor of Philosophy
Document Type:
Date of Defense:
May 25, 2001
Committee Members:
  • Edgar Paul Yoder, Committee Member
  • Susan M Land, Committee Chair
  • Kyle Leonard Peck, Committee Member
  • Steven B Sawyer, Committee Member
  • problem-solving processes
  • ill-structured task
  • question prompts
  • peer interactions
  • scaffolding
<!doctype html public "-//w3c//dtd html 4.0 transitional//en"> <html> <head> <meta name="Author" content="Xun Ge"> <meta name="GENERATOR" content="Mozilla/4.7 [en]C-CCK-MCD EBM-Compaq (Win95; U) [Netscape]"> </head> <body> The purpose of the study was to investigate the effects of question prompts and peer interactions in scaffolding students' problem-solving processes on an ill-structured task, particularly in problem representation, solution, justifications, and monitoring and evaluation.&nbsp; A mixed study design, combining an experimental study with a comparative, multiple-case study, was applied.&nbsp; 115 college students participated in the experimental study, and 19 of them participated in the case studies. <p>The result of the experimental study showed that the students working with peers and question prompts (PQ) significantly outperformed the students in the other conditions, especially those who did not receive question prompts (either working individually or with peers), in all the four problem-solving processes.&nbsp; At the same time, the students working individually and with question prompts (IQ), though they did less well than the PQ group in problem representation, significantly outperformed the students in the peer condition without question prompts (PC) and those individuals without question prompts (IC) in problem representation, justifications, and monitoring and evaluation.&nbsp; There were no significant differences between the PC and the IC groups in any of the four problem-solving processes. <p>It appeared that question prompts were a superior scaffolding strategy over peer interactions in supporting students’ problem solving on an ill-structured task.&nbsp; However, the comparative, multiple-case study revealed the complexity of the peer interaction context and the relationship between question prompts and peer interactions.&nbsp; While this study confirmed the findings of previous research on the effectiveness of question prompts in facilitating students’ cognition and metacognition, it also showed the benefits of peer interactions, which were contingent upon group members’ active and productive engagement in peer interactions, that is, questioning, explaining, elaborating and providing feedback among peers.&nbsp; The study implied that, in order for students to benefit fully from peer interactions, the peer interaction process itself need to be scaffolded, especially when students were novice problem solvers; and question prompts, through expert modeling, may serve to facilitate this process. </body> </html>