Current recommendations regarding mathematics education advocate using a large number of examples to foster a deep understanding and promote transfer between problems (cf. Villani-Torossian, 2018). While training on several examples is known to be a decisive step in learning how to flexibly use mathematical concepts in different situations, selecting the optimal sequence of examples remains a significant challenge for mathematics education. Specifically, identifying which examples may help learners develop their cognitive flexibility - the ability to consider the same problem from different perspectives and find its solution regardless of its wording - is a crucial stake for educational psychology.
This internship aims at tackling this issue by investigating whether the cognitive load attached to a problem may either facilitate or hinder one’s ability to find an optimal path of resolution. More precisely, we propose to empirically assess whether cognitive load - either intraneous or extraneous - may impact one’s ability to put forth the necessary cognitive flexibility to find the optimal, yet counter-intuitive, solution to an arithmetic word problem. The interactions between cognitive flexibility and cognitive load will be studied in a series of experiments using word problems whose solution requires a perspective change.
In this perspective, the intern may choose to conduct experiments with children in a classroom setting as well as with lay adults or math experts. Funding for online data collection has also been secured, making it possible to gather insights from a broader population. The use of eye-tracking may provide additional insights into participants’ strategies depending on a problem’s cognitive load.
Student profile: Interest for human cognition, behavioral experiments, educational issues. Previous experience with eye-tracking is a plus but not required. Previous experience with online data collection (Qualtrics/MTurk) is a plus but not required. Previous experience with children is a plus but not required. Open minded and dynamic people are welcome :-)