Equation rearrangement is an important skill required for problem solving in mathematics and other scientific disciplines, e.g., physics or chemistry. In addition to the traditional behavioral methods, in recent years eye tracking and functional neuroimaging methods are becoming increasingly used for studying this ability [1, 2]. We conducted a series of studies aimed at determining the strategies deployed by students of different ages while solving simple linear equations. We also investigated how these strategies change during development. The results obtained within a study conducted at elementary and high schools in Zagreb showed that students in higher grades become more accurate and faster in rearranging equations, and that their use of concrete strategies such as replacing symbols with numbers decreases. Measuring eye movements of students of different majors during simple equation solving revealed that the participants improved their performance during the time course of the measurement because students developed more advanced solving strategies. The obtained results indicate that the measurement of eye movements provides insights into otherwise unavailable cognitive processes. Specifically, a scan path analysis may be regarded as an objective indicator of participants’ flow of attention during the equation solving, while the number of fixations may be used as a reliable measure of problem difficulty and student expertise [3]. [1] Qin, Y., Carter, C.S., Silk, E., Stenger, V.A., Fissell, K., Goode, A. & Anderson, J.R. (2004). The change of the brain activation patterns as children learn algebra equation solving. Proceedings of National Academy of Science, 101, 5686–5691. [2] Cohors-Fresenborg, E., Kramer, S., Pundsack, F., Sjuts, J. & Sommer, N. (2010). The role of metacognitive monitoring in explaining differences in mathematics achievement. ZDM Mathematics Education, 42, 231–244. [3] Sušac, A., Bubić, A., Kaponja, J., Planinić, M. & Palmović, M. (submitted). Eye movements reveal students' strategies in simple equation solving. |