Paper Summary

Direct link:

Diagrams May Not Be Your Friend: Empirically Discriminating Their Problem-Solving Efficacy

Thu, April 16, 12:00 to 1:30pm, Sheraton, Floor: Fourth Level, Chicago VI&VII


Instructing students to use diagrams as problem-solving aids is commonly expected to improve comprehension and achievement, especially with particularly complex or counterintuitive topics such as probability. These two experiments addressed the effects of using diagrams to supplement a more algebraic, formula-based problem-solving method. Undergraduate participants were tested for prior knowledge and then instructed to solve a particular type of probability task using either a diagram or a purely algebraic procedure. Immediate and delayed posttests were administered to measure the effects of using diagrams on participants’ levels of achievement. Results indicate that the use of diagrams had a deleterious effect on problem-solving performance for total-probability problems but not for joint-probability problems.