Abstract

Previous research in the area of expert-novice comparisons of mathematical problem solving has focused on the differences in categorization of and performance on math problems. These studies have led to the conclusion that while solving or categorizing problems, experts focus on deep processing and novices focus on surface structure. Other research dealing with true/false multiplication equations has shown that adults (considered experts in multiplication) can reject false answers before processing the equation. This study attempts to extend these findings by looking at the differences between experts and novices in the recognition of errors in true/false calculus verification expressions. The participants were professors (experts) and students (novices). The experiment consisted of participants answering 68 true/false calculus expressions (equations or conditionals) at three levels of difficulty. Reaction time, accuracy, and level of confidence were recorded. Experts were found to be quicker and more accurate overall. The experts were not able to reject the false problems more quickly than accepting the true ones. However, there was still some support for the hypothesis that experts are not only quantitatively better at task performance, but qualitatively different from novices in the type of processing they employ.

Disciplines

Psychology

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Psychology Commons

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