|Problem Presentation Features that Engender Mental Simulations of Physical Transformations|
Daniel Lewis Schwartz
Uploaded by: Education Program Gottesman Libraries
Pockets: Historical Dissertations
Description/Abstract: Designers of educational materials have a variety of choices when selecting a form for presenting visual materials. For example, the same content may be portrayed in a photograph, sketch, or diagram. Are there reasons to choose one graphical form over another? Currently, there is minimal empirical evidence that can illuminate the decision. One intuitive possibility is that the "realism" of an image has an effect on the degree of contact the image makes with prior experiences. For example, a diagram may cause students to treat the image as an indication of a school book task. In contrast, a photograph may bring to mind the likely behaviors of the portrayed referents.
In two experiments investigating the spontaneous influence of different types of graphics, one group of subjects saw realistic drawings of a hinge and another group saw diagrammatic drawings of a hinge. Their task was to decide if marks on each arm of a hinge would meet when the hinge closed. Changes to reaction times and errors over different degrees of hinge openness suggest that subjects who saw the realistic drawings tended to imagine the hinge closing. In contrast, the subjects who saw the diagrammatic drawings of the hinge tended to compare discrete features of the hinge such as angle size.
The current interpretation of the data is motivated by the claim that realistic perceptual features reinstate the knowledge people use to anticipate perceptual changes. Without an actually changing world, these anticipations take the form of a mental simulation that mimics the perceptual changes virtually. However, the instability of the data suggests that subjects switched between a number of strategies. Thus, there are general problem-solving differences due to different levels of graphic realism but it is impossible to be confident about the reasons for these differences.
Dissertation Committee: John B Black, Sponsor
Herbert P. Ginsburg, Chair
Ernst Z. Rothkopf