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Abstract Title: Do perceptually salient elements in physics problems influence students’ eye movements and answer choices?
Abstract: Several reasons have been proposed to explain students' incorrect answers to conceptual physics problems.  Heckler (2011) proposed a reason 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 fifteen 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.
Footnote: This work supported in part by NSF grant 1138697.
Abstract Type: Contributed Poster Presentation

Author/Organizer Information

Primary Contact: Adrian Madsen
Kansas State University
Physics Department, 116 Cardwell Hall
Manhattan, KS 66502
Phone: 7855321612
Co-Author(s)
and Co-Presenter(s)
Amy Rouinfar, Kansas State University
Adam Larson,  Kansas State University
Lester Loschky,  Kansas State University
N. Sanjay Rebello,  Kansas State University