An integrative framework for the analysis of multiple and multimodal representations for meaning-making in science education
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This paper presents an integrative framework for analyzing science meaning-making with representations. It integrates the research on multiple representations and multimodal representations by identifying and leveraging the differences in their units of analysis in two dimensions: timescale and compositional grain size. Timescale considers the duration of time a learner typically spends on one or more representations. Compositional grain size refers to the elements of interest within a representation, ranging from components such as visual elements, words, or symbols, to a representation as a whole. Research on multiple representations focuses on the practice of re-representing science concepts through different representations and is typically of long timescale and large grain size. Research on multimodal representations tends to consider how learners integrate the components of a representation to produce meaning; it is usually of finer grain size and shorter timescale. In the integrative framework, each type of analysis on multiple and multimodal representations plays a mutually complementary role in illuminating students’ learning with representations. The framework is illustrated through the analysis of instructional episodes of middle school students using representations to learn nanoscience concepts over the course of a lesson unit. Finally, recommendations for new research directions stemming from this framework are presented.
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