An Exploratory Study to Examine the Feasibility of Measuring Problem-Solving Processes Using a Click-Through Interface

Gregory K.W.K. Chung, Eva L. Baker


In this study we investigated the feasibility of a novel user interface to support the measurement of problem-solving processes. Our research questions addressed the use of a "click-through" interface to measure the "generate-and-test" problem-solving process for a design problem. A click-through interface requires the user to explicitly perform an online action (e.g., to view time, the user has to click on a "time" icon). This interface allowed us to measure participants' intentional acts. Freshman college students were given the task of modifying a given, computer-interactive bicycle pump to satisfy performance requirements. The simulation interface provided participants with point-and-click access to controls to modify pump parameters, to run the simulation, to view important information, and to attempt to solve the task. Lag sequential analyses of participants' problem-solving processes over time showed cyclical behavior consistent with the generate-and-test strategy of modifying the pump design, running the simulation, viewing the information, and then either modifying the design or attempting to solve the problem and then modifying the design again. This behavior set was remarkably stable, with most lag 1 associations greater than .80. Our approach to measuring problem-solving processes appears feasible and promising, but more work is needed to gather additional validity evidence.

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