The Japanese Journal of Educational Psychology
Online ISSN : 2186-3075
Print ISSN : 0021-5015
ISSN-L : 0021-5015
A Review of Knowledge Acquisition Promoting Transfer in Mathematical Problem Solving
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1998 Volume 46 Issue 4 Pages 461-472


This review focuses on knowledge acquisition which promotes transfer in mathematical problem (especially, algebra word problem) solving. Within mathematical problem solving, similar (nonisomorphic) target problems have been shown to be difficult for the learner to solve. The purpose of this review was to discuss what type of knowledge facilitated transfer to similar targets. We distinguished between three types of knowledge: knowledge based on examples, knowledge based on solution structures, and knowledge based on structure generation. In the example-based approach, the knowledge which facilitated transfer consisted of multiple examples and their solutions. We argued that this approach did not address the facilitation of transfer to similar targets. The solution structure-based approach suggested that the acquistion of abstract knowledge at the level of solution structures or forms of equations was necessary for transfer to occur. We found little experimental evidence supporting this approach. In the structure generation-based approach, the knowledge of how to construct solutions was considered to be the one promoting transfer. We think that this approach was the most promising of the three. We discussed further directions as to the acquisition of the knowledge of generating solution structures, and stressed the importance of clarifying the process of acquiring such knowledge.

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