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Problem Solving and Motivation – Getting our Students in Flow Documents

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Problem Solving and Motivation – Getting our Students in Flow 

written by N. Sanjay Rebello and Dean A. Zollman

Csíkszentmihályi proposed the psychological concept of flow as signifying a state of complete involvement and enjoyment in an activity. When learners are in flow they are motivated, engaged, and completely focused on the task at hand, resulting in effortful learning. In this paper we explore the connections between the concept of flow and our model of transfer of learning as applied to problem solving. Our model of transfer purports two cognitive mechanisms – horizontal and vertical – that learners use to construct knowledge. Further, it proposes that carefully designed sequences of horizontal and vertical learning which provide scaffolding within a learner's zone of proximal development can facilitate learners to navigate an optimal adaptability corridor and foster progress toward adaptive expertise as characterized by Bransford & Schwartz. By exploring the connections between flow and our model of transfer, we hope to gain insights into what can motivate learners to become better problem solvers.

Published February 1, 2014
Last Modified December 19, 2013

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