This study investigated the effect of two problem-solving techniques: (a) free-association with a direct reference to the problem, called shortly direct, and (b) free-association with a remote and postponed reference to the problem, called remote, on fluency and originality of ideas in solving ill-structured problems. The research design controlled for possible effects of cognitive style for problem-solving—adaptor versus innovator. The results showed that both groups significantly outscored a control group on fluency and originality. The remote group outperformed the direct and control groups on originality, but not on fluency. Innovators scored significantly better than adaptors in the control group on fluency, but not on originality. No significant difference was found between innovators and adaptors in both direct and remote groups. There was no statistical indication for an interaction effect between treatment and cognitive style. Based upon the results of this study, four implications for learning and instruction have been formulated for designing and developing technological arrangements for learning to solve ill-structured problems. These guidelines will support designers in developing instructional design solutions in educational technology applications.
- learning to solve problems
- problem solving support
- paradox of knowledge structure
- Cognitive styles
- conceptual design