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Comparing Experts and Novices in Solving Electrical Circuit Problems with the Help of Eye-Tracking Documents

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Comparing Experts and Novices in Solving Electrical Circuit Problems with the Help of Eye-Tracking 

written by David Rosengrant, Colin Thomson, and Taha Mzoughi

In order to help introductory physics students understand and learn to solve problems with circuits, we must first understand how they differ from experts. This preliminary study focuses on problem-solving dealing with electrical circuits. We investigate difficulties novices have with circuits and compare their work with those of experts. We incorporate the use of an eye-tracker to investigate any possible differences or similarities on how experts and novices solve electrical circuit problems. Our results show similarities in gaze patterns among all subjects on the components of the circuit. We further found that experts would look back at the circuit while solving the problem but not the novices. We also found differences in how they solve the problems. For example, experts simplified circuits when appropriate as opposed to novices who did not. They also had difficulties identifying when resistors are in parallel or in series and how to combine them.

Published November 11, 2009
Last Modified October 12, 2009

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