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Title page        -           -           --          -           -           -           -           -           -           i

Certification    -           -           --          -           -           -           -           -           -           ii

Dedication      -           -           --          -           -           -           -           -           -           iii

Acknowledgement      -           --          -           -           -           -           -           -           iv

Table of Contents       -           --          -           -           -           -           -           -           v

List of Tables  -           -           --          -           -           -           -           -           -           vii

Abstract          -           -           --          -           -           -           -           -           -           viii


Introduction    -           -           --          -           -           -           -           -           -           1

Statement of Problems            --          -           -           -           -           -           -           10

Purpose of Study        -           --          -           -           -           -           -           -           12

Significance of Study -           --          -           -           -           -           -           -           12


Theoretical Review     -           --          -           -           -           -           -           -           14

Empirical Review        -           --          -           -           -           -           -           -           22

Hypotheses     -           -           --          -           -           -           -           -           -           31

Operational Definition of Terms         --          -           -           -           -           -           32


Design -           -           -           -           --          -           -           -           -           -           33

Setting -           -           -           --          -           -           -           -           -           -           33

Participants     -           -           --          -           -           -           -           -           -           34

Materials         -           -           --          -           -           -           -           -           -           34
Procedures      -           -           --          -           -           -           -           -           -           36

Statistics          -           -           --          -           -           -           -           -           -           40


Summary of Findings -           --          -           -           -           -           -           -           41


Discussion of Findings           --          -           -           -           -           -           -           46

Conclusion      -           -           --          -           -           -           -           -           -           48

Implication and Recommendation      --          -           -           -           -           -           49

Limitation of the Study          --          -           -           -           -           -           -           49

References      -           -           --          -           -           -           -           -           -           50



Table 1: Table of Mean showing Effects of Practice and Emotional Intelligence of Problem         Solving among Undergraduates          -           -           -           -           41

Table 2: Summary of 2 x 2 ANOVA Table Showing the Main and Interaction Effects of Practice and Emotional Intelligence on Problem Solving among Undergraduates 43


This study examined effects of practice and emotional intelligence on problem solving among undergraduates. Sixty (60) participants made up of twenty-seven (27) males (45%) and thirty-three (33) females (55%) selected from a population of Year one students in the Department of Psychology, University of Uyo participated in the study. The ages of participants ranged between 18 and 32 years and their mean age was 24.47 years. The participants were selected using simple random sampling technique, and were randomly assigned two groups; group A and group B. A 4-Disk Computerized Tower of Hanoi and Schutte Self Report Emotional Intelligence Test were the major instruments used in this study. The study utilized a 2 x 2 factorial design and a 2-Way Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) for unequal sample was employed for data analysis. Results revealed that practice has a significant effect on problem solving [F (1, 56) = 2.72; P < .05]. There was no significant effect of emotional intelligence on problem solving. Furthermore, there was also no interaction effect of practice and emotional intelligence on problem solving. It was concluded that practice affects problem solving. Implications of the study as well as recommendation were made in line with the findings of the study.



            Majority of problems encountered in everyday life, regardless of how trivial, place demands on at least some relevant knowledge (Ericsson & Smith, 1991). Umay (2007) defines a problem as any situation in which the solution is not clearly seen and which requires the solver to  use his/her mind in contemplating a solution by drawing on his/her own experiences. According to D’Zurilla (1999), a problem is defined as any life situation or task (present or anticipated) that demands a response for adaptive functioning but no effective response is immediately apparent or available to the person or people confronted with the situation because of the presence of one or more obstacles. Schunk (2000) Posits that a problem occurs when someone is confronted with a difficulty for which an immediate answer is not available. Jonassen and McGee (2003) assert that there are different processes for solving problems. These cognitive processes are aimed at achieving a goal and are called pro-blem solving.
            Problem solving can be defined as knowing what must be done in situations where one does not know what to do (Çelebioğlu & Yazgan, 2009). Eysenck and Kean (2005) defined problem solving as a cognitive processing directed at transforming a given situation into a goal situation when no obvious method of solution is available to the problem solver. D'Zurilla (1988) defined problem solving as a cognitive–affective–behavioural process through which an individual attempts to identify, discover, or invent effective means of coping with problems encountered in every day life. More specifically, this cognitive-behavioural process makes available a variety of potentially effective solutions for a particular problem and also increases the probability of selecting the most effective solution from among the various alternatives (D’Zurilla & Goldfried, 1971).

            According to Goldstein and Levin (1987), Problem solving is a higher-order cognitive process and an intellectual function that requires the modulation and control of more routine or fundamental skills. Metallidou (2009) viewed problem solving as a goal-directed behaviour that requires an appropriate mental representation of the problem and the subsequent application of certain methods or strategies in order to move from an initial, current state to a desired goal state.  Sternberg (2006) posits that the circle of problem solving includes distinguishing the problem, defining the problem, strategy for making the problem, organizing information about the problem, allocating resources as well as inspecting and evaluating the steps to problem solving. Furthermore, Soylu & Soylu (2006) assert that since problem solving is also a scientific method, it requires critical thinking, creative and reflective thinking, analysis and synthesis skills. In addition, problem solving serves the function of enhancing the situation and reducing the emotional distress caused by it (D’Zurilla, Chang, & Sanna, 2004).         
            A distinguishing feature of a problem is that there is a goal to be reached and how one gets there depends on the type of problem (problem-solving style and skills) and systematic analysis (Robertson, 2001). Thus problem solving depends on the type of problem.  Problems can be well defined or ill structured (Jonnasen, 1997). According to Jonassen, (1997) a well-defined problem is one in which the start-state of the problem, its goal-state, the available operators (i.e. methods that can be applied to make moves from the start-state towards the goal-state) and the constraints upon operator selection (i.e. the rules that define legal moves) are known in advance.

            Solving well-defined problems can be viewed as a task of navigating from the start-state to the goal-state by applying operators at appropriate times to shift from one problem state to another under given constraints ( Anderson, 2000). In well defined problems, heuristics, such as hill-climbing and means-end analyses, are central in explaining human performance (Simon & Reed, 1976; Anderson, 1993). In addition, in well-structured problems, all the information needed to solve the problem is given; a limited set of rules is needed to solve the problem; in many cases only one procedure leads to the right answer; and there is only one correct answer (Solaz-Portoles & Sanjose, 2007).

            Furthermore, well defined problem solving may be either routine or non-routine (Sternberg, 1982).  Any specific problem is classified as routine or non-routine not by the structure or content of the problem, but rather, by the previous experiences of the solver.  For instance, a problem that can be solved mechanically by a person who has past experience working with exactly the same or very similar situations is more appropriately defined as routine problem solving.  A routine problem is typical and has a simple solution. Routine problems are what most people do in school such as memorizing simple facts, how to do addition and subtraction, how to spell words, and so on. Artut and Tarım (2009) opined that routine problems are generally similar examples of a previously solved problem. Routine problems require applying a learned formula to a new situation. Conversely, a non-routine problem is defined as a cognitively non-trivial task; that is, the solver does not already know a method of solution (Selden, Selden, Hauk, & Mason, 2000). According to Altun (2005), non-routine problems require more thinking compared to the routine ones and the method used to solve the problem is not clear. This implies that non-routine problems require solvers to use facts and procedures in unfamiliar ways.  Non- routine problems require not only mathematical thinking but also skills such as reasoning (Işık & Kar, 2011).

            Ill-structured problems on the other hand can be defined as problems which do not have known solutions (Jonassen, 1997). Ill-structured problem solving have positive effects on facilitating higher order thinking skills, such as critical thinking, teamwork, and communication skills (Byun, Lee, & Cerreto, 2014). Ormerod (2014) posits that Ill-defined problems present a dilemma for planning because it involves one planning the route towards a solution when one knows so little about the path ahead, or when one does not know the final destination or goal state.

            Heuristics that evaluate the progress made towards a goal-state are not obviously applicable to solving ill-defined problems, because it is difficult to describe a test for the final state that could be used in evaluating progress (VanLehn, 1989). However, when faced with an ill-defined problem, individuals can and do plan. In fact, planning is central to both failure and success at solving ill-defined problems and there are no general rules and consensual solutions for ill-structured problems (Ormerod, 2014). Experts in the domain do not agree regarding whether a particular solution is appropriate, because it has various solutions and solution paths (Jonassen, 1997; Reitman, 1965; Voss, 1988).

            Of particular interest in this study is non-routine problem solving among undergraduates. This is because research has revealed that a large number of students are unable to solve moderately difficult non-routine problems even though they seem to possess the requisite factual and procedural knowledge necessary to do so (Altun & Arslan, 2006; Higgins, 1997; Holton, Anderson, Thomas, & Fletcher, 1999; Selden et. al 2000). These difficulties have been linked to inadequacies in using and understanding the concepts, formulas, relations and algorithms together with thought in the process of problem solving (Arslan & Altun, 2007; Bayazit, 2013).

            Researchers have examined the effect of variables such as media, language, experience, mode of presentation, emotions, task difficulty, etc on problem solving (Eseryel & Ifenthaler, 2013; Sheehan, 2011; Williams & Noyes, 2004; Worth, Mercieri, Douglas, Wong, & Kosegarten, 2014), however, practice and emotional intelligence are the variables of interest in this study.

            Practice is a variable of interest in this study. Practice has been defined as the act of rehearsing behaviour over and over, or engaging in an activity again and again for the purpose of improving or mastering it (Ericsson, Krmpe & Tesch-Romer, 1993). Practice also implies the repetition of an activity to improve a skill (Duvivier, Van-Dalen, Muijtjens, Moulaert, & Cherpbier, 2011). Duvivier et al (2011) defined practice as repetitive performance of intended cognitive or psychomotor skills, rigorous skills assessment, specific information feedback that result in better skills performance. Researchers have identified deliberate and rote practice as the two general types of practice (Brabeck, Jeffrey, & Fry, 2012; Duckworth & Gross, 2014).

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