This study compared two groups of students being instructed in various methods of problem solving over a two-week period. The control group was instructed using the standard Career and Technology Education (CTE) Introduction curriculum on using brainstorming to solve problems. The treatment group was instructed using a structured problem solving method developed to help focus problem solving on finding a solution that satisfies the conditions. Students were selected from 7th grade students at a suburban middle school in Utah. The independent variable in this study was the type of problem solving instruction received. The dependent variables of interest were the fluency of producing solutions (S), number of inventive solutions (I) produced while problem solving. Additional variables of interest include student's perceived competence (c) while problem solving and students perceived usefulness (u) of problem solving in their lives. A pre-test and a post-test consisting of open-ended problems were utilized to assess the fluency of solutions (S) and the number of inventive solutions (I). A modified Fennema-Sherman attitude questionnaire was utilized to assess student's perceived competence (c) and perceived usefulness (u). The findings indicated that students who are taught a structured problem solving method produce a statistically significant (p-value of .033) greater number of inventive solutions when compared to students not instructed in this method. These students also appear to focus their problem solving by producing less total solutions (s) but a greater portion of these solutions is inventive. Other findings include data that supports the idea that dedicated problem solving instruction increases students perceptions of their own abilities to problem solving. Both control and treatment groups experience a statistically significant increase in their perceived competence in problem solving (p-value of .430 and .382 respectively).



College and Department

Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering and Technology; Technology



Date Submitted


Document Type





problem solving, ASIT method, inventive solutions