Introduction to Multiple Representations: Their Importance in Biology and Biological Education
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This chapter introduces the theoretical perspectives associated with multiple external representations (MERs) (Ainsworth, Comput Educ, 33(2/3):131–152, 1999) and their importance in biology and biological education. We first review Ainsworth’s functional taxonomy of MERs and the related literature in this area of research. Next, we propose a theoretical cube model to examine and interpret the major themes and theoretical positions of the chapters in this volume, discussing some examples to illustrate our arguments. We conclude by examining the pedagogical functions that MERs can take on giving new meanings—as biology goes from in vivo and in vitro to an in silico research culture and practice using a systems approach to solving biology-based global problems (National Research Council, A new biology for the 21st century, National Academic Press, Washington, DC, 2009)—and the concomitant changes that can be made to improve biological education for the twenty-first century.
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