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ERIC Number: EJ935093
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2011-Mar
Pages: 12
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 15
ISSN: ISSN-0196-5042
When Best Intentions Go Awry: The Failures of Concrete Representations to Help Solve Probability Word Problems
Beitzel, Brian D.; Staley, Richard K.; DuBois, Nelson F.
Educational Research Quarterly, v34 n3 p3-14 Mar 2011
Previous research has cast doubt on the efficacy of utilizing external representations as an aid to solving word problems. The present study replicates previous findings that concrete representations hinder college students' ability to solve probability word problems, and extends those findings to apply to a multimedia instructional context. Our concrete-representation group was instructed in how to use Venn diagrams to solve probability problems involving non-mutually exclusive events; our procedural group was instructed only in the formulation of equations. Results showed that the procedural group outperformed the concrete-representation group; additionally, there was a main effect for performance on transfer problems, favoring near-transfer problems over far-transfer problems. Contrary to previous findings, however, in the present study cognitive load did not appear to be a factor in the lower performance of the concrete-representation condition. (Contains 1 figure and 1 table.)
Behavioral Research Press. Grambling State University, Math Department, P.O. Box 1191, Grambling, LA 71245. Tel: 318-274-2425; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A