Students’ perceptions of problem solving with metacognitive scaffolding

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


Problem solving is a fundamental skill in chemistry. Yet students have difficulties solving problems in chemistry. These difficulties may be instructor-driven. Instructor-driven difficulties could stem from some teaching practices, such as expecting students to apply procedures without showing their reasoning or solely focusing on worked examples. Such practices could inhibit the development of problem-solving skills. To address these challenges, our group developed a scaffold (Goldilocks Help) to support both students and instructors through structured problem solving (Yuriev et al., 2017). This study explored how teaching associates (TAs) used the problem-solving scaffold and how this practice affected their teaching and perceptions of student learning. Data was collected from interviews with TAs and analysed using the framework approach (Ritchie & Spencer, 1994). Teaching with the problem-solving scaffold was found to be beneficial, albeit with initial student resistance. The scaffold provided a common thinking structure between the instructor and students. This enabled the TAs to easily identify mistakes and address specific areas of concern. However, TAs also experienced students’ attention shift from content to the scaffold. The students unproductively viewed the process as requiring two separate actions: (1) solving the problem and (2) demonstrating problem-solving skills, as opposed to an integrated activity. Through constant reinforcement and prompting during and prior to solving the problem, students continued to grasp how to effectively internalise the scaffold to assist their learning. Understanding students’ interaction with problem-solving scaffolds will add to the field of education research to inform innovations in teaching and learning to optimise engagement strategies.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 2021
EventIUPAC CCCE Congress 2021: Solving Global Challenges with Chemisty - Virtual
Duration: 13 Aug 202120 Aug 2021


ConferenceIUPAC CCCE Congress 2021
Abbreviated titleIUPAC CCCE 2021
Internet address

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