NotesFAQContact Us
Search Tips
Peer reviewed Peer reviewed
Direct linkDirect link
ERIC Number: EJ905286
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2010-Dec
Pages: 15
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 33
ISSN: ISSN-1059-0145
When Simple Harmonic Motion Is Not that Simple: Managing Epistemological Complexity by Using Computer-Based Representations
Parnafes, Orit
Journal of Science Education and Technology, v19 n6 p565-579 Dec 2010
Many real-world phenomena, even "simple" physical phenomena such as natural harmonic motion, are complex in the sense that they require coordinating multiple subtle foci of attention to get the required information when experiencing them. Moreover, for students to develop sound understanding of a concept or a phenomenon, they need to learn to get the same type of information across different contexts and situations (diSessa and Sherin 1998; diSessa and Wagner 2005). Rather than simplifying complex situations, or creating a linear instructional sequence in which students move from one context to another, this paper demonstrates the use of computer-based representations to facilitate developing understanding of complex physical phenomena. The data is collected from 8 studies in which pairs of students are engaged in an exploratory activity, trying to understand the dynamic behavior of a simulation and, at the same time, to attribute meaning to it in terms of the physical phenomenon it represents. The analysis focuses on three episodes. The first two episodes demonstrate the epistemological complexity involved in attempting to make sense of natural harmonic oscillation. A third episode demonstrates the process by which students develop understanding in this complex perceptual and conceptual territory, through the mediation (Vygotsky 1978) of computer-based representations designed to facilitate understanding in this topic. (Contains 9 figures.)
Springer. 233 Spring Street, New York, NY 10013. Tel: 800-777-4643; Tel: 212-460-1500; Fax: 212-348-4505; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A