Training in Components of Problem-Solving Competence: An Experimental Study of Aspects of the Cognitive Potential Exploitation Hypothesis

Research output: Contributions to collected editions/worksChapterpeer-review


  • Florian Buchwald
  • Jens Fleischer
  • Stefan Rumann
  • Joachim Wirth
  • Detlev Leutner

In this chapter, two studies are presented that investigate aspects of the cognitive potential exploitation hypothesis. This hypothesis states that students in Germany have cognitive potentials they do not use when solving subject-specific problems but that they do use when solving cross-curricular problems. This theory has been used to explain how students in Germany achieved relatively well on cross-curricular problem solving but relatively weakly on mathematical problem solving in the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) 2003. Our main research question in this chapter is: Can specific aspects of cross-curricular problem-solving competence (that is, conditional knowledge, procedural knowledge, and planning skills) be taught, and if so, would training in this area also transfer to mathematical problem solving? We investigated this question in a computer-based training experiment and a field-experimental training study. The results showed only limited effects in the laboratory experiment, although an interaction effect of treatment and prior problem-solving competence in the field-experiment indicated positive effects of training as well as a transfer to mathematical problem-solving for low-achieving problem-solvers. The results are discussed from a theoretical and a pedagogical perspective.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCompetence Assessment in Education : Research, Models and Instruments
EditorsDetlev Leutner, Jens Fleischer, Juliane Grünkorn, Eckard Klieme
Number of pages17
Place of PublicationCham
PublisherSpringer Nature AG
Publication date01.01.2017
ISBN (Print)978-3-319-50028-7, 978-3-319-84301-8
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-319-50030-0
Publication statusPublished - 01.01.2017
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017, Springer International Publishing AG.

    Research areas

  • Analytical problem solving, Mathematical problem solving, Training, Transfer
  • Educational science