This study has explored the relationships between cognitive abilities, preferred mode of processing, and calculus performance.
Materials and methods:
This is a quantitative study which sought to design calculus tasks to determine students’ preference for visual or analytic processing as well as examine the role of preferred mode of processing in calculus performance and its relationship to spatial ability and verbal-logical reasoning ability. Data were collected from 150 high school students who were enrolled in Advanced Placement calculus courses.
The measures of preferred mode of processing did not correlate with the measures of spatial ability and verbal-logical reasoning ability, suggesting that cognitive abilities did not predict the students’ preference for visual or analytic processing. Multiple regression analysis revealed that spatial visualization ability, verbal-logical reasoning ability, preference for visual processing contributed significantly to the variance in calculus performance.
This study contributes to the existing research on factors affecting mathematics performance by generating new information about the relationships between measures of spatial ability, verbal-logical reasoning ability, calculus performance, and preferred mode of processing mathematical information. The calculus tasks and corresponding questionnaires, which were used in this study, have the potential to be used as a measure of students’ visual and analytic tendencies in calculus.