Spacebar Experiment

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The purpose of this study was to learn about how students process numbers and quantities. At the start of the experiment, the student researcher asked me to familiarize myself with the experimental set-up by doing a few trial runs. I was asked to press the spacebar every time something appeared on the screen. Then, for the actual experiment, I was instructed to stare at a fixation point while resting my chin on a chinrest. On either side of the fixation point was a small circle. I was told that a number may or may not appear on the screen, but if one does appear, I was told to just ignore it. Then, one of the dots may suddenly be filled in. If and ONLY if a circle is filled in, we were asked to immediately press the spacebar. If no circles were filled in, we were not supposed to press the spacebar. We had to repeat this…show more content…
I don’t know how this study relates to math education because I felt like I was just instructed to press the spacebar each time I saw one of the circles filled in. Sometimes there would be numbers that appeared above the fixation point and sometimes there was nothing. The reason I am confused is because the researcher told me to ignore any numbers that may appear on the screen, so if they don’t serve a direct purpose, I wonder why they are included. Perhaps the researchers want to see if our reaction time is any different when comparing trials that flashed a number versus trials that did not. The task reminded me of the Go/No-Go experimental paradigm, which I learned in Ed Psych 326 in terms of cognitive control (inhibition) abilities. It may be true that people respond differently to such tasks when cued with a number (maybe more/fewer false alarms). Besides cognitive control (topic in Ed Psych 326), I cannot really find any connections to theories discussed in Ed Psych 301. I am interested in learning about how this particular experiment is related to mathematics
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