Miss Susan Cooper

Research project: Individual differences and representational effects in numerical problem solving

Abstract

Partly due to the vast quantity of data which is now readily available via the internet, individuals are more frequently being asked to consider numerical information in a wide variety of scenarios (for example, health risk information), and are expected to make complex and critical decisions based on their understanding of it. Therefore, numeracy skills can be critical to good decision-making, but levels of numeracy vary substantially in the population, even highly educated individuals often having difficulty in comprehending numerical information when making decisions. Other factors about an individual, such as cognitive reflection, willingness to engage in effortful cognitive activities, and attitude towards number, can also contribute towards numerical reasoning performance. My research investigates the effects of these factors on numerical problem solving, how different external representations of a problem affect comprehension, and how best to present numerical information in order to improve performance and facilitate good decision making.

Biography

After completing my undergraduate degree in Computer Science and a PGCE at UCL, I taught Mathematics for several years at local secondary schools, hence my interest in mathematical and numerical cognition. I completed the MSc in Behavioural Decision Science at Kingston in 2018, and started my PhD here in 2019.

Areas of research interest

  • Numeracy
  • Representational effects
  • Problem solving
  • Decision making
  • Causal judgment

Qualifications

  • BSc (Hons) Computer Science, Kingston University
  • PGCE Mathematics, UCL
  • MSc Behavioural and Decision Science, Kingston University

Publications

Cooper, S., & Vallée-Tourangeau, F. (2020). The effects of numeracy and presentation format on judgments of contingency. Memory & Cognition. https://doi.org/10.3758/s13421-020-01084-8