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Do perceptually salient elements in physics problems influence students' eye movements and answer choices? Documents

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Do perceptually salient elements in physics problems influence students' eye movements and answer choices? 

written by Adrian M. Madsen, Amy Rouinfar, Adam M. Larson, Lester C. Loschky, and N. Sanjay Rebello

Several reasons have been proposed to explain students' incorrect answers to conceptual physics problems. Heckler proposed with a perceptual basis: plausible and salient "eye catching" features in a problem capture students' attention. Once students attend to these perceptually salient features, less salient albeit thematically relevant features are not considered and students answer the problem incorrectly based on the salient features. To test this hypothesis we recorded eye movements of introductory physics students on 15 conceptual problems with diagrams. Each diagram contained areas consistent with documented novice-like answers and other areas consistent with the scientifically correct answer. We manipulated the luminance contrast of the diagrams to produce three versions of each diagram, which differed by the area with the highest level of perceptual salience. We found no effect of the salience on the correctness of students' answers. We also discuss how the salience manipulations influence eye movements.

Published January 24, 2013
Last Modified June 27, 2013