The purpose of the present study was to examine effects of mental operation of a rule on problem solving. In the experiment, the following meteorological rule was used: the width of the Sea of Japan over which moist winter winds pass from China to towns in northwest Honshu and Hokkaido (in the northern part of the Japanese archipelago) corresponds to the amount of snowfall in those towns. Participants, 99 undergraduates who had not previously learned the rule, were divided into 3 groups of 33 students each. The experimental group was required to read a text explaining the rule and to relate the width of the Sea of Japan (i.e., narrow or wide) to the amount of snowfall (i.e., light or heavy). That task represented mental operation of the rule. Control Group 1 read the text and then filled in blanks in sentences in the text. Control Group 2 only read the text. In the post test, the students were given problems that could be solved correctly by using the rule. The scores of the students in the experimental group were higher than those of the students in the control groups. This suggests that having estimated the amount of snowfall on the basis of the width of the sea facilitated use of the rule in problem solving.
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