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Knowledge matters in vocational problem-solving : a cognitive view

Soden, Rebecca and Pithers, R. (2001) Knowledge matters in vocational problem-solving : a cognitive view. Journal of Vocational Education and Training, 53 (2). pp. 205-222. ISSN 1363-6820

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While there is increasing emphasis on the idea that vocational education should equip students to think well, very little attention is paid in course design to messages from cognitive research that the quality of people's subject knowledge influences their thinking about problems. The overall aim of the study was to evaluate the usefulness of ideas from cognitive research and from the ‘meta-cognitive movement’ in designing instruction intended to improve students' ability to deal with simple accounting problems. A new ‘cognitive’ approach to teaching an existing basic accounting module was implemented by further education lecturers and evaluated using an experimental/control design. The results indicate that the ‘cognitive’ instruction significantly improved students' scores on non-routine accounting tasks. The authors interpret the results as consistent with their view that the emphasis on understanding and thinking in this study may be more vocationally relevant than is commonly supposed.