# Effects of Problem Difficulty and Student Expertise on the Utility of Provided Diagrams in Probability Problem Solving

- Eliza J. Bobek,
*Teachers College, Columbia University*
- James E. Corter,
*Teachers College, Columbia University*

## Abstract

This study investigated the use of schema-specific diagrams in
probability problem solving. Graduate students enrolled in an introductory
probability and statistics course solved four probability problems, with and
without instructor-provided diagram hints. Participants’ solutions were
examined and coded for correctness, use of provided diagrams, and use of
student-generated external visual representations. Results show that provided
diagram hints helped low-ability students on all but the most difficult problem,
while high-ability students were aided by diagrams on the most difficult problem.
Implications for the use of diagrams in the development of problem solving
proficiency are discussed.

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