Learning University Physics Using Multiple Representations
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In recent years, many science educators have argued that the scientific discourse itself involves flexible use of multiple representations and students need to be able to understand and link different scientific representations to develop a deeper understanding of science concepts. To effectively teach using multiple representations, it is necessary to explicitly present students with different forms of representations. In this case study, such instruction was enacted for first year university students in a physics course for non-majors. We designed two questionnaires on Thermal Physics and Optics to assess students' conceptual understanding and their use of multiple representations (description using words, diagrams, formulas and coordinate graphs) to explain the concepts. We also conducted interviews to link students' explanations to their responses in the questionnaire items. Two research questions guided the study: 1) How and to what extent do students use different representations to learn and communicate physics concepts? and 2) How do different representations help students build deeper understanding? The results showed that even with explicit teaching, learning physics using different representations is not straight forward and a large number of students were unable to apply the four representations effectively to solve physics problems.
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Treagust, David; Kuo, Yen-ruey; Zadnik, Marjan; Siddiqui, Salim; Won, Mihye (2012)In recent years, many science educators have argued that the scientific discourse itself involves flexible use of multiple representations and students need to be able to understand and link different scientific representations ...