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Novice physics students were constrained to carry out qualitative and hierarchically structured problem analyses that were designed to mimic those used by experts. Each problem analysis required that novices consider questions concerning principals, concepts, and procedures. The effects of structuring novices' problem analyses in this way were assessed in three areas: (a) judgments of solution similarity, (b) reasoning about solution similarity, and (c) problem solving. Experiment 1 provides evidence that performing qualitative and hierarchically structured problem analyses leads novices to make more expert-like judgments of solution similarity. As shown in Experiment 2, this shift is due to an increased focus by novices upon the deep structure or problems. The results of Experiment 3 indicate that qualitative and hierarchically structured problem analyses can improve novices' ability to solve problems. We discuss the pedagogical implications of these findings.
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