Publication details [#11732]

Van Meeuwen, Ludo W., Halszka Jarodzka, Saskia Brand-Gruwel, Paul A. Kirschner and Jeano J.P.R. De Bock. 2014. Identification of effective visual problem solving strategies in a complex visual domain . Learning and Instruction 32 : 10–21. 12 pp.
Publication type
Article in journal
Publication language
Place, Publisher
Amsterdam: Elsevier


This article presents a study on visual problem solving strategies employed by air traffic controllers. The participants were divided in three groups according to their level of expertise (novice, intermediate, expert) and they were all shown pictures that presented them with a problem on aircraft landing. The purpose was to find out what kind of strategies would each expertise group resort to. Expert air traffic controllers employed an attention focusing and chunking strategy using the most relevant information in each case, while discarding the irrelevant points (and therefore not making any eye movements towards them) and perceiving the aircrafts that had to be landed altogether as one, and not as each individual one. Novices, however, engaged in means-end analyses focusing their attention on the goal of the task, rather than on the distinctive steps that can lead to the goal. Not surprisingly, it was experts that employed the most efficient strategies; yet it was rather striking that it was the intermediates that needed more effort, thus more cognitive load. It seems that all the above problem solving strategies induce the creation of cognitive schemata that aim at accomplishing the task in hand, so being aware of them can assist in the creation of teaching materials so as to optimize the results and develop at the quickest pace possible from the novice to the expert problem solving strategies.