Chapter 5: It Depends on the Problem and on the Solver: An Overview of the Working Memory Overload Hypothesis, Its Applicability and Its Limitations
Published:17 May 2021
G. Tsaparlis, in Problems and Problem Solving in Chemistry Education: Analysing Data, Looking for Patterns and Making Deductions, ed. G. Tsaparlis, The Royal Society of Chemistry, 2021, ch. 5, pp. 93-126.
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A considerable amount of research has gone into the investigation of the role of information processing and of various associated cognitive (psychometric) factors in problem solving. While the working memory overload hypothesis has been central to many studies, other factors including mental capacity or M-capacity, degree of field dependence/independence, and scientific reasoning have also been examined. This chapter re-examines the Johnstone–El-Banna model, which is based on the working memory overload hypothesis, explores situations where the model is valid and considers its limitations. The role of the aforementioned cognitive factors in problem solving in chemistry is examined. The working memory overload hypothesis is further approached by means of a complexity theory model, which demonstrates nonlinear changes in student performance. Finally, the nature of the working memory is further considered.