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Identifying Representational Competence with Multi-Representational Displays

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journal contribution
posted on 27.05.2012, 00:00 by Mike Stieff, Mary Hegarty, Ghislain Deslongchamps
Increasingly, multi-representational educational technologies are being deployed in science classrooms to support science learning and the development of representational competence. Several studies have indicated that students experience significant challenges working with these multi-representational displays and prefer to use only one representation while problem solving. Here, we examine the use of one such display, a multi-representational molecular mechanics animation, by organic chemistry undergraduates in a problem-solving interview. Using both protocol analysis and eye fixation data, our analysis indicates that students rely mainly on two visual-spatial representations in the display and do not make use of two accompanying mathematical representations. Moreover, we explore how eye fixation data complement verbal protocols by providing information about how students allocate their attention to different locations of a multi-representational display with and without concurrent verbal utterances. Our analysis indicates that verbal protocols and eye movement data are highly correlated, suggesting that eye fixations and verbalizations reflect similar cognitive processes in such studies.


This research was supported in part by an NSF/Gordon Conference on Visualization in Science and Education Seed Grant and a grant from the National Science Foundation (DRL-0723313).


Publisher Statement

Post print version of article may differ from published version. This is an electronic version of an article published in Stieff, M., Hegarty, M., & Deslongchamps, G. 2011. Identifying Representational Competence With Multi-Representational Displays. Cognition and Instruction, 29(1): 123-145. Cognition and Instruction is available online at: DOI:10.1080/07370008.2010.507318


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