Productive Thinking in Place of Problem-Solving? Suggestions for Associating Productive Thinking with Text Comprehension Fostering

Open access


Why and how is the Gestalt theorists’ concept of productive thinking particularly suitable for being applied to the educational question of how student motivation can be encouraged, thus providing an important condition for self-regulated, intrinsically motivated learning?

An answer to this question has been sought using an approach to the fostering of text comprehension ability, based upon the features specific to productive thinking, originally identified by Wertheimer (1945) and Duncker (1935).

Firstly, these specific features are dealt with and their educational implications compared with those deriving from the definitions of problem-solving used most frequently in educational research. Secondly, an analysis is made of the process by which the features specific to productive thinking are turned into the conditions for a kind of text analysis suitable for designing an instructional project aimed at enhancing text comprehension ability and, at the same time, encouraging intrinsic motivation and self-regulation on the part of the learner. Thirdly, an educational project centred on the thinking-aloud poor reader is described, where thinking aloud and reflection–response are combined in order to guarantee the maximum level of intrinsic motivation. In the concluding section, the most important features of the project are discussed in relation to reciprocal teaching and scaffolding.

Calvino, I. (1963). Marcovaldo. Torino, Italy: Einaudi.

Calvino, I. (1988). Six memos for the next millennium. London, England: Random House.

Cavazzini, G. (1999). Abilità di comprensione della lettura. Stimolazione individualizzata o collettiva? Scuola e Città, 12, 508–524. [Reading comprehension ability. Individualized or collective fostering?].

Clark, H. H. (1977). Bridging. In P. N. Johnson-Laird & P. C. Wason (Eds.), Thinking. Readings in cognitive science (pp. 243–263). Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.

Clark, R. E. (2009). How much and what type of guidance is optimal for learning from instruction? In S. Tobias & T. M. Duffy (Eds.), Constructivist instruction. Success or failure? (pp. 158–183). New York, NY: Routledge.

Deci, E. L. (1975). Intrinsic motivation. New York, NY: Plenum Press.

Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (1985). Intrinsic motivation and self-determination in human behaviour. New York, NY: Plenum Press.

Dewey, J. (1929). The sources of a science of education. New York: Horace Liveright.

Duncker, K. (1935). Zur Psychologie des Productiven Denkens. Berlin, Germany: Springer-Verlag.

Ericsson, E. A., & Simon, H. A. (1984). Protocol analysis. Cambridge MA: MIT Press.

Hidi, S. (2006). Interest: A unique motivational variable. Educational Research Review, 1, 69–82.

Jonassen, D. (2004). Learning to solve problems: An instructional design guide. San Francisco, CA: Pfeiffer/Jossey Bass.

Jonassen, D. (2009). Reconciling a human cognitive architecture. In S. Tobias & T. M. Duffy (Eds.), Constructivist instruction. Success or failure? (pp. 13–33). New York, NY: Routledge.

Kahn, R. L., & Cannel, C. F. (1957). The dynamics of interviewing. New York, NY: Wiley.

Kellogg, R. T. (2012). Fundamentals of cognitive psychology. Los Angeles, CA: Sage.

Kintsch, W. (1998). Comprehension: A paradigm for cognition. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.

Kintsch, W. (2009). Learning and constructivism. In S. Tobias & T. M. Duffy (Eds.), Constructivist instruction. Success or failure? (pp. 223–241). New York, NY: Routledge.

Kirschner, P. A., Sweller, J., & Clark, R. E. (2006). Why minimal guidance during instruction does not work: An analysis of the failure of constructivist, discovery, problem-based, experiential, and inquiry-based teaching. Educational Psychologist, 4(1/2), 75–86.

Lumbelli, L. (1996). Focusing on text comprehension as problem-solving: A fostering project for culturally deprived children. In C. Cornoldi & J. Oakhill (Eds.), Reading comprehension difficulties. Processes and intervention (pp. 301–330). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.

Lumbelli, L. (2008). From film and television to multimedia cognitive effects. In J-F. Rouet, R. Lowe &W. Schnotz (Eds.), Understanding Multimedia Documents (pp. 223–248). New York: Springer.

Lumbelli, L. (2009). La comprensione come problema. Il punto di vista cognitivo. Roma-Bari, Italy: Laterza. [Comprehension as a problem. The cognitive viewpoint].

Lumbelli, L. (2012). Problematic Anaphors in the comprehension and revision of expository texts. In C. Gelati, B. Arfé & L. Mason (Eds.), Issues in writing research (pp. 71–86). Padoua: Cleup.

Lumbelli, L., & Paoletti, G. (2005). Monitoring local coherence through bridging integration. In G. Rijlaarsdam, H. van den Bergh & M. Couzijn (Eds.), Effective Learning and Teaching of Writing (pp. 197–208). New York: Kluwer Academic Publishers.

Mayer, R. E. (2004). Should there be a three-strikes rule against pure discovery learning? The case for guided methods of instruction. American Psychologist, 59, 14–19.

Mayer, R. E. (2009). Constructivism as a theory of learning versus constructivism as a prescription for instruction. In S. Tobias & T. M. Duffy (Eds.), Constructivist instruction. Success or failure? (pp. 184–200). New York, NY: Routledge.

McNamara, D. S., Kintsch, E., Songer, N. B., & Kintsch, W. (1996). Are good texts always better? Text coherence, background knowledge, and levels of understanding in learning from text. Cognition and Instruction, 14, 1–43.

Newell, A., & Simon, H. A. (1972). Human problem solving. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.

Olson, G. M., Duffy, S. A., & Mack, R. L. (1984). Thinking-out-loud as a method for studying real-time comprehension processes. In D. E. Kieras & M. A. Just (Eds.), New methods in reading comprehension (pp. 253–286). Hillsdale NJ: Erlbaum.

Palincsar, A. S., & Brown, A. L. (1984). Reciprocal teaching of comprehension-fostering and comprehension-monitoring activities. Cognition and Instruction, 1, 117–175.

Popper, K. R. (1999). All life is problem solving. New York, NY: Routledge.

Rogers, C. R. (1951). Client-centered therapy. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin.

Schwartz, D. L., Lindgren, R., & Lewis, S. (2009). Constructivism in an age of non-constructivist assessment. In S. Tobias & T. M. Duffy (Eds.), Constructivist instruction. Success or failure? (pp. 34–60). New York, NY: Routledge.

Spiro, R. J. (2006). The post-Gutenberg world of the mind: The shape of the new learning. Educational Technology, 46, 3–4.

Spiro, R. J., & DeSchryver, M. (2009). When it’s the wrong idea and when it’s the only idea. In S. Tobias & T. M. Duffy (Eds.), Constructivist instruction. Success or failure? (pp. 106–123). New York, NY: Routledge.

Sweller, J. (2009). What human cognitive architecture tells us about constructivism. In S. Tobias & T. M. Duffy (Eds.), Constructivist instruction. Success or failure? (pp. 34–60). New York, NY: Routledge.

Wertheimer, M. (1945). Productive thinking. New York, NY: Harpers & Brothers.

Wood, D., Bruner, J., & Ross, G. (1976). The role of tutoring in problem solving. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 17, 89–100.

Gestalt Theory

An International Multidisciplinary Journal

Journal Information


All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 0 0 0
Full Text Views 278 278 19
PDF Downloads 162 162 16