Problem-solving strategies of gifted sixth graders in the context of addressing future concerns

Lace Strahan Cassidy, Fordham University


The problem-solving strategies of an intact class of 20 sixth graders enrolled in a language arts class for gifted students were studied, analyzed, and described. In addition to the study of the problem-solving strategies used, the teacher/researcher also investigated the use of the problem-solving journal during the problem-solving process, the level of awareness of problem-solving strategies demonstrated by these students, and the evaluation by the students of their capabilities as problem solvers both during the study and 6 months after its completion. The study of two novels with a theme of survival in life-threatening situations led students to a discussion of their concerns for the future. Through the use of affinity groups, students were first able to identify the environment as their primary area of concern and then identify three specific areas, regular habits, marine habitats, and animal testing for further study. Groups were formed for each area identified. Group problem-solving sessions were audiotaped. Students recorded their activities and thoughts during the problem-solving process in their journals. The teacher/researcher used interviews and questionnaires at the beginning, end, and 6 months after the completion of the project to determine the students' levels of awareness of both strategies used and the self-evaluation of individual abilities as problem solvers. The strategies used were identified through the use of a protocol analysis conducted of the transcripts of problem-solving sessions and of individual problem-solving sessions. Transcripts of problem-solving sessions yielded 4,484 responses while 945 responses were coded for the journals. Responses to interviews and questionnaires were collated and analyzed for patterns of response. The results of the data analysis indicated that these gifted students were strategic problem solvers. They believed that the use of a problem-solving journal was beneficial for both organizational and personal reasons. These students were aware of their own problem-solving strategies and were able to rate themselves as problem solvers.

Subject Area

Curricula|Teaching|Special education|Cognitive therapy

Recommended Citation

Cassidy, Lace Strahan, "Problem-solving strategies of gifted sixth graders in the context of addressing future concerns" (1997). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI9808998.