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Use of Multimedia for Problem-Solving Tasks
Robert Zheng, Susan M. Miller, Glenn E. Snelbecker and Ian Cohen

The purpose of this study was to determine the effect of manipulating visual images on solving combinatorial problems. A sample of 88 college students completed two measures of spatial ability from the Kit of Factor-Referenced Cognitive Tests and a series of computer-based problem solving tasks. Blocking on cue comparison test scores, participants were randomly assigned to either an interactive or non-interactive task condition. For the number of problems correctly answered, the main effect for type of presentation (interactive versus non-interactive) was significant, F(1, 87) = 7.04, p = .010. When efficiency was considered (the number of problems solved correctly divided by time), the main effect for spatial ability was marginally significant, F(1,87) = 3.739, p = .057. Manipulating graphic images helped students (regardless of their spatial ability) to solve problems more effectively; interactivity aided low spatial ability subjects to more efficiently solve problems.

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