Session S81 (Thursday, 9:30am, Thomas 104)

P965: The role of prediction tasks and spatial abilities in the use of macroscopic and particulate representations

Scott Hinze (Northwestern University, USA), Ghislain Deslongchamps (University of New Brunswick, Canada), David Rapp (Northwestern University, USA), Mary Jane Shultz (Tufts University, USA), Vickie Williamson, Kenneth Williamson (Texas A&M University, USA)

This experiment explored how spatial abilities influence the processes and products of students’ use of dynamic visualizations. General chemistry students with a mix of high and low prior knowledge completed a battery of tests including measures of spatial ability, and an eye-tracking session, in which students viewed three simulated experiments dealing with fluids at the macroscopic and particulate levels of representation.  Before simulations, some participants predicted the outcome at a macroscopic level (N=41) while others did not (N=40). During the simulations, eye movements were tracked to determine what representations the students were viewing. After each simulation, participants explained the outcome of the experiment in both multiple-choice and open-ended formats. Overall, students had difficulty providing particulate-level explanations, and spent more time viewing the macroscopic representation. This was exacerbated after prediction tasks, especially for participants with high spatial abilities.


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