Instructional Science

, Volume 41, Issue 4, pp 657–679 | Cite as

Impacts of learning inventive problem-solving principles: students’ transition from systematic searching to heuristic problem solving

  • Moshe Barak


This paper presents the outcomes of teaching an inventive problem-solving course in junior high schools in an attempt to deal with the current relative neglect of fostering students’ creativity and problem-solving capabilities in traditional schooling. The method involves carrying out systematic manipulation with attributes, functions and relationships between existing components and variables in a system. The 2-year research study comprised 112 students in the experimental group and 100 students in the control group. The findings indicated that in the post-course exam, the participants suggested a significantly greater number of original and useful solutions to problems presented to them compared to the pre-course exam and to the control group. The course also increased students’ self-beliefs about creativity. Although at the beginning of the course, the students adhered to ‘systematic searching’ using the inventive problem-solving principles they had learned, later on they moved to ‘semi-structured’ and heuristic problem solving, which deals with using strategies, techniques, rules-of-thumb or educated guessing in the problem-solving process. It is important to note, however, that teaching the proposed method in school should take place in the context of engaging students in challenging tasks and open-ended projects that encourage students to develop their ideas. There is only little benefit in merely teaching students inventive problem-solving principles and letting them solve discrete pre-designed exercises.


Creativity Heuristics Problem solving Teaching 



Great thanks are due to Dr. Pnina Mesika for her considerable contribution to this research.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Science and Technology EducationBen Gurion University of the NegevBeer ShevaIsrael

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