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ERIC Number: EJ1039424
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2013-Jul
Pages: 30
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 27
ISSN: ISSN-0020-4277
Translating between Representations in a Social Context: A Study of Undergraduate Science Students' Representational Fluency
Nichols, Kim; Ranasinghe, Muditha; Hanan, Jim
Instructional Science: An International Journal of the Learning Sciences, v41 n4 p699-728 Jul 2013
Interacting with and translating across multiple representations is an essential characteristic of expertise and representational fluency. In this study, we explored the effect of interacting with and translating between representations in a computer simulation or in a paper-based assignment on scientific accuracy of undergraduate science students' explanations regarding the underlying mechanisms of action potential. The study proposed that a simulation designed with scaffolded inquiry and with multiple dynamically linked representations fosters students to use greater scientific accuracy in speaking about a complex scientific phenomenon as well as to work with this complex knowledge in higher cognitive domains. Student explanations were analysed for use of accurate scientific language as they worked with the instructional tool as well as under test conditions. We also investigated the cognitive domain that students worked within as they created explanations of the phenomenon under study. The proportion of elaborations that occurred in higher-level cognitive domains such as applying, analysing, evaluating and synthesising was used to denote representational fluency. The rationale for this approach is discussed. Findings suggest that the simulation prompted students towards operating in higher cognitive domains in order to construct new knowledge and therefore promoted representational fluency. It also suggests that translating between representations in a simulation in a collaborative social setting contributes towards students' use of accurate scientific language. Students' perceptions expressed during the interviews confirmed the findings.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A