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Eye-movements reveal children’s deliberative thinking and predict performance on arithmetic word problems

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Abstract

Despite decades of research on the close link between eye movements and human cognitive processes, the exact nature of the link between eye movements and deliberative thinking in problem-solving remains unknown. Thus, this study explored the critical eye-movement indicators of deliberative thinking and investigated whether visual behaviors could predict performance on arithmetic word problems of various difficulties. An eye tracker and test were employed to collect 69 sixth-graders’ eye-movement behaviors and responses. No significant difference was found between the successful and unsuccessful groups on the simple problems, but on the difficult problems, the successful problem-solvers demonstrated significantly greater gaze aversion, longer fixations, and spontaneous reflections. Notably, the model incorporating RT-TFD, NOF of 500 ms, and pupil size indicators could best predict participants’ performance, with an overall hit rate of 74%, rising to 80% when reading comprehension screening test scores were included. These results reveal the solvers’ engagement strategies or show that successful problem-solvers were well aware of problem difficulty and could regulate their cognitive resources efficiently. This study sheds light on the development of an adapted learning system with embedded eye tracking to further predict students’ visual behaviors, provide real-time feedback, and improve their problem-solving performance.

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Funding

This work was financially supported by the Ministry of Science and Technology, Taiwan under grant number MOST 104-2511-S-003-013-MY3, MOST 108-2511-H-003-014-MY3, MOST108-2636-H-003-003-, and by the “Institute for Research Excellence in Learning Sciences” of National Taiwan Normal University (NTNU) from The Featured Areas Research Center Program within the framework of the Higher Education Sprout Project by the Ministry of Education (MOE) in Taiwan.

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Correspondence to Chao-Jung Wu.

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Appendix

Appendix

construct 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20
1 RT − TFDa                    
2 RT − TFDb .61**                   
3 RT − TFDc .56** .68**                  
4 RT − TFDd .74** .69** .62**                 
5 TFD of blanka .24* .35** .30* −.03                
6 TFD of blankb .55** .32** .43** .12 .71**               
7 TFD of blankc .31** .06 .31** .34** .21 .34**              
8 TFD of blankd .41** .41** .63** .13 .72** .75** .26*             
9 NOF of blanka .29* .38** .35** .01 .70** .76** .97** .27*            
10 NOF of blankb .61** .32** .47** .17 .98** .72** .65** .26* .67**           
11 NOF of blankc .44** .13 .40** .42** .31* .42** .24 .92** .39** .47**          
12 NOF of blankd .47** .41** .68** .17 .74** .98** .74** .38** .75** .75** .27*         
13 NOF of 500 msa .03 .01 −.02 −.17 .06 .05 .02 −.10 .01 .03 −.02 −.16        
14 NOF of 500 msb .15 −.07 .08 −.13 .17 .10 −.01 .07 .14 .09 −.03 .08 .66**       
15 NOF of 500 msc −.01 −.12 .03 .07 −.01 −.02 −.06 .14 −.04 −.04 −.06 .08 .56** .59**      
16 NOF of 500 msd .04 −.09 .15 −.10 .11 .16 .08 .09 .08 .13 .05 .07 .74** .59** .68**     
17 Pupil sizesa −.15 −.09 −.20 −.26* −.05 .05 .17 −.08 −.07 .02 .16 −.12 −.32** −.05 −.15 −.25*    
18 Pupil sizesb .08 .03 .10 .09 .01 −.10 −.20 −.06 .05 −.07 −.16 .00 .18 .01 .00 .10 −.70**   
19 Pupil sizesc −.03 −.15 −.11 .06 −.08 −.10 .02 .12 −.08 −.07 .01 .10 −.24* −.16 −.12 −.06 −.72** .51**  
20 Pupil sizesd .11 .18 .24* .14 .13 .20 −.02 .06 .15 .18 −.02 .08 .21 .10 .23 .17 .51** −.63** −.63**
  1. Note.aConsistent-illustrated problems; bConsistent-text problems; cInconsistent-illustrated problems; dInconsistent-text problems
  2. * p < .05. ** p < .01. *** p < .001

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Wu, C., Liu, C., Yang, C. et al. Eye-movements reveal children’s deliberative thinking and predict performance on arithmetic word problems. Eur J Psychol Educ (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10212-020-00461-w

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Keywords

  • Arithmetic word problems
  • Deliberation
  • Eye movements
  • Problem-solving