Generalizing From the Use of Earlier Examples in Problem Solving

Brian H. Ross, Patrick T. Kennedy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Novices often are reminded of earlier examples during problem solving. Four experiments examine the hypothesis that the use of earlier examples promotes generalizations about problem types, thereby influencing what is learned about the domain. Subjects studied four probability principles with word problems and then tried to solve two test problems for each principle. For half of the first tests, cues indicated which study problem might be used. All second tests were uncued. Experiments 1 and 2 showed that the first-test cuing led to an advantage on second-test performance for both the access and the use of relevant information. Experiments 3 and 4 demonstrated that this cuing benefit is due to some generalization induced from using the study problem to solve the first-test problem. Discussion focuses on the distinctions about how problem comparisons are used in learning and the implications of the view that remindings lead to generalizations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)42-55
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1990
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Linguistics and Language


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