The roles of media, language, and practice on solving the Tower of Hanoi problem

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Southern New Hampshire University
The current study presents findings of a study conducted on the Tower of Hanoi problem. The Tower of Hanoi problem is a logical puzzle involving recursion in which there are three pegs with discs stacked in ascending order on the left peg. The object is to restack the discs on the right peg in ascending order, moving one disc at a time and never having a larger disc placed on top of a smaller one. The fewer the moves to accomplish this, the more successful the trial is judged to be. Subjects were randomized into one of eight cells and all were measured on their ability to solve the 4-disc version of the Tower of Hanoi in terms of three dependent variables: total number of moves, total moves-to-optimal moves ratio, and completion time. In a 2 X 2 X 2 between subjects factorial design, subjects were assigned to three different conditions with two levels each. Subjects performed either a computerized or physical version of the TOH; verbalized their strategies while doing so or were instructed to remain silent; and were allowed to practice on easier two-disc and three-disc versions or were not given the benefit of doing so. Main effects were found in that subjects completing the physical TOH did so more efficiently than those completing it on the computer. Subjects also benefitted from verbalizing their strategies over remaining silent. Interaction effects were also found for practice and verbalization. (Author abstract)