Leverage Learning from Chemistry Visualizations (Ming & Schoenfield)

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Leverage Learning from Chemistry Visualizations

Summary Table

Study 1

PIs Norma Ming and Alan Schoenfield
Other Contributors
Study Start Date January, 2009
Study End Date December, 2009
LearnLab Site Berkeley, CA
LearnLab Course
Number of Students
Total Participant Hours
DataShop Log data soon to be uploaded and available in the DataShop

Abstract

An ongoing challenge that educators continually face is helping their students recognize connections between related information while also appreciating distinctions between only seemingly related information. Learners who fail to recognize connections across different contexts or representations demonstrate overly specific knowledge, failing to generalize what they have learned to new circumstances. Learners who fail to distinguish between superficially related information demonstrate overly general knowledge, failing to discriminate between subtle but important features of the problems before them. In the former case, learners should refine their knowledge by removing irrelevant features from overly specific knowledge components; in the latter, the desired knowledge refinement requires adding relevant features to overly general knowledge components. One promising approach for addressing this challenge for both situations is to ask students to compare similar problem situations that highlight key commonalities and differences. In particular, comparisons of different representations of related concepts may prove especially valuable for helping students make sense of the complex visualizations often employed in introductory chemistry lessons. Carefully designed comparisons may help students coordinate information between and across multiple representations, enabling them to refine their knowledge by drawing critical distinctions and recognizing fundamental commonalities between the concepts represented. The research proposed here will examine how structured comparisons of multiple representations of chemical reactions may facilitate students’ abilities to generalize their understanding of common concepts across different representations and to discriminate between different concepts in superficially similar representations.

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