Very often, efficient problem solving depends on the ability to construct, to shift between, and to coordinate different mental problem representations. The cognitive simulation program Sepia has been developed to investigate the complementary roles qualitative and quantitative mental domain representations play in physics problem solving. It reconstructs characteristic differences in the problem solving behavior of those subjects who coordinate their qualitative and quantitative physics kwledge and those subjects who do t. Various model-based measures to supplement traditional instructional techniques are set forth. The results of an empirical study underline the importance a coordinated use of kwledge as modeled by Sepia plays in physics problem solving.
The Author: Rolf Ploetzner was born in Castrop-Rauxel (Germany) in 1960. After he finished a professional training he started to study psychology and mathematics at the University of Freiburg (Germany). In 1990 he graduated in psychology. Afterwards he worked as a research fellow at the Learning Research and Development Center (LRDC) at the University of Pittsburg (U.S.A.). Since 1991, he participated in various research projects, funded by the German National Research Foundation (DFG). He completed his dissertational research in 1993 at the University of Freiburg.