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In an experiment, secondary students from Australia and Malaysia (n = 130) were randomly assigned to one of three approaches (equation, unitary, unitary-pictorial) to learn how to solve challenging percentage-change problems. In line with the differential types of cognitive load associated with the three approaches, the unitary-approach group outperformed both the unitary group and the equation group across Australia and Malaysia. In support of cross-cultural findings, the Malaysian students outperformed the Australian students for the equation approach but not the unitary approach nor the unitary-pictorial approach. The Australian students, in contrast, learned better with the unitary-pictorial approach. This study, overall, reveals the “gap” between the Asian and Western countries in the use of problem-solving approaches across different cultural settings.


Institute for Positive Psychology and Education

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Journal Article

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