"Our research indicates that it should be possible to understand the complex psychological processes that enable people to solve problems, a construct that is more popularly understood as 'intelligence'," explained Romain Martin, professor at University of Luxembourg.

"With this knowledge we could design programmes to train people to be adaptable throughout their lives," Samuel Greiff, who is also from the University of Luxembourg, pointed out.

At the basis of general problem solving is the ability to use strategies acquired in one area in a wide range of other tasks. Facts are widely available thanks to technology, but it requires particular skill to covert this diverse, plentiful information into useful knowledge.

It remains important to maintain traditional educational goals of teaching facts and different problem solving strategies, but new cross-curricular skills, indicating mental processes that are relevant in a number of situations and across several domains, are also needed, the researchers noted.

The study appeared in the journal Educational Research Review.

 

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