Thinking Strategies Used While Engaged in Solving the Tower of Hanoi, the River-crossing and Find the Pattern Puzzles

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The British University in Dubai (BUiD)
This study investigates thinking strategies of 100 students belonging to five age groups, namely, third graders, eighth graders, undergraduate sophomores and graduates. This study hypothesizes that the younger groups will be able to solve puzzles with more ease, and that the more complex and advanced the thinking strategies are, the harder it will be to solve the puzzles. The participants are asked to solve three puzzles, Tower of Hanoi, River crossing puzzle (Farmer and animals, Missionaries and Cannibals) and Find the pattern (months of the year). The participants are then asked to explain what thinking strategies they used to help them during the problem-solving process. The findings revealed eight thinking strategies- the use of mental imagery, reading and thinking aloud, trial-and-error or repetition, planning ahead, imitation or modeling, accessing prior knowledge, gaining hints and clues from surroundings, and the use of physical cues or gestures. Results show that students used a variety, sometimes a combination of thinking strategies.
thinking strategies, problem-solving process, United Arab Emirates (UAE), critical thinking