Cognitive Constraints on Computer Problem-Solving Skills

Young Woo Sohn, Stephanie M. Doane

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


This research uses a cognitive theoretical approach to understand how knowledge and processing demands influence the acquisition of computer problem-solving skills. Participants whose UNIX experience varied were asked to produce complex UNIX commands, and they were provided with help prompts when they made errors. The prompts were designed to address specific deficits in UNIX knowledge and to manipulate working memory demands. Findings suggest that prompting novices with required knowledge is not sufficient to obtain correct performance; they must receive additional assistance that reduces working memory demands. The findings are applied to the design and test of a graphical computer support interface.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)288-312
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: Applied
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1997 Dec

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology


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