Solving ill-defined personal problems : the effects of scaffolds, generation tools, and recording tools on solution generation
This experiment was designed to compare the before and after ratings of solutions generated by individuals using two problem solving scaffolds, brainstorming and the hierarchical technique. Participants were randomly assigned to one of eight conditions which varied by type of scaffold (procedures to guide thinking), type of tool used to assist solution generation (random word list or thesaurus), and type of technology utilized (computer versus paper and pencil). Using a personal problem, participants generated solutions on paper until they could no longer add to their list. Then participants were taught to use a scaffold, either brainstorming or the hierarchical technique , and allowed to continue generating solutions either on paper or on a computer with one of two tools to stimulate ideas, a random word list or a thesaurus.Results indicated that participants trained on brainstorming generated solutions that were more original than participants trained on the hierarchical technique. The mean number of solutions generated was highest when participants used the computer recording tool paired with a thesaurus. Finally, participants rated solutions higher on practicality when they used a random word list instead of a thesaurus.