Student Summer Scholars


An Eye-Tracking Study of Visual Representation Use for Problem Solving in Organic Chemistry


Eye tracking, organic chemistry, representations, problem-solving



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There are many different molecular representations used within organic chemistry classes, and many students find it hard to choose the right one to use. This study examined students’ use of different representations of molecules to answer questions on multiple organic chemistry topics. The goal of this study was to see if students favor some structures over others, or if they are using these structures correctly based on the type of question asked. To collect this data, 26 organic chemistry questions were created and an eye-tracking computer was used to see were the students looked on the screen during problem solving. Results showed that gender does not impact student choice of representation, but question type and experience in chemistry affected which representation students used when answering questions.