Diagrams Benefit Symbolic Problem Solving
How a problem is presented can influence students’ problem-solving performance. For example, including diagrams can alter students’ understanding, choice of strategy and accuracy on word problems. In this study, we examined the effect of diagrams on students’ performance in a symbolic problem domain. Sixty-one seventh-grade students solved algebraic equations presented in two formats: with or without an accompanying diagram. The presence of diagrams increased equation-solving accuracy and use of informal strategies. Overall, the benefits of diagrams found previously for word problems generalized to symbolic problems.
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