Title page for ETD etd-10282010-231248

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Hamm, Jolene Diane
Author's Email Address johamm@vt.edu
URN etd-10282010-231248
Title Exploring the Dimensions of Problem-solving Ability on High-achieving Secondary Students: A Mixed Methods Study
Degree PhD
Department Agricultural and Extension Education
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Broyles, Thomas W. Committee Chair
Drewry, Julie Committee Member
Stewart, Daisy L. Committee Member
Westfall-Rudd, Donna M. Committee Member
  • high-achieving
  • problem-solving ability
  • self-concept
  • Problem-solving style
  • problem-solving task
Date of Defense 2010-10-15
Availability restricted
This mixed-methods study investigated the relationship between self-concept and problem-solving style and how these two constructs compared and contrasted in regards to a participant’s perception of his or her problem-solving ability. The 86 study participants were high-achieving rising 11th and 12th grade students attending a summer enrichment program for agriculture. This study used a concurrent triangulation mixed methods design. The quantitative aspect of the study employed two instruments, SDQ III to test perceived self-concept and the VIEW to determine the perceived problem-solving style. Concurrent with this data collection, 13 open-ended interviews were conducted to explored the description of the problem-solving process during a problem-solving event. The reason for collection of both quantitative and qualitative data was to bring together the strengths of both forms of research in order to merge the data to make comparisons and further the understanding of problem-solving ability of high-achieving youth.

The study discovered that self-concept and problem-solving style have a weak relationship for many of the constructs and a negative relationship between two of constructs. The qualitative component revealed that high-achieving youth had clear definitions of problem-solving, a rich and descriptive heuristic approach, a clear understanding of which resources provided key information, and a strong depiction of themselves as problem-solver. An emergent concept from the research was the participants’ perceptions of the team-based structure and how the inclusion of multiple ability levels versus high ability levels affected the participants’ perceptions of solving a problem in a team situation. The mixing component of the study depicted the influence of self-concept on the problem-solving style.

This study was an initial exploration of the relationship between self-concept and problem-solving and compared the current results with previous research. It extended and connected the previous research areas of self-concept and problem-solving style. As an initial study, it led to recommendations for further research across education as well as additional exploration of the emergent relationships identified. Finally, the study denoted the importance of mixed-methods research due to the interconnectivity between self-concept and problem-solving style and the participant descriptions of themselves as problem-solvers.

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