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IES Grant

Title: Scaffolding Students' Use of Multiple Representations for Science Learning
Center: NCER Year: 2008
Principal Investigator: Puntambekar, Sadhana Awardee: University of Wisconsin
Program: Cognition and Student Learning      [Program Details]
Award Period: 4 years (9/1/2008 - 8/31/20) Award Amount: $1,453,848
Goal: Development Award Number: R305A080507
Description:

Co-Principal Investigators: Hari Narayanan (Auburn University), Sanjay Rebello (Kansas State University), and Roland Hübscher (Bentley College)

Purpose: In this project, the researchers will develop and evaluate a novel approach to science instruction that engages multiple representations—text, hands-on experimentation and interactive computer simulations—which incorporates scaffolding both by the teacher and the computer, in order to immerse middle school students in these practices of science. Prior research has found that students benefit from using multiple representations when: (i) the representations are integrated into instructional activities and (ii) students are provided scaffolds as they make connections between representations. This project will address both of these issues. By integrating multiple representations within an instructional unit, and providing scaffolding that enables translation between representations, this instruction will lead to a deeper conceptual understanding. The team will leverage digital linked text materials from the Concept Mapped Project-based Activity Scaffolding System (CoMPASS) to accomplish these aims.

Project Activities: Researchers will integrate three types of representations that are used in science instruction and have a set of unique affordances: hands-on activities and investigations, computer-based simulations, and text. The intervention will focus on the integration between descriptive (CoMPASS, worksheets), physical (manipulatives and physical materials), and depictive (visual displays such as simulations and graphics) representations and associated learning activities. Researchers will iteratively develop and test curricular materials based on existing CoMPASS materials. Researchers will conduct both classroom studies in middle schools as well as teaching interviews with middle school students, pre-service science teachers and undergraduate science students.

Products: Products include a fully developed approach to science instruction that engages multiple representations—text, hands-on experimentation and interactive computer simulations using the CoMPASS program. Peer reviewed publications will also be produced.

Structured Abstract

Setting: This study will take place in middle school science classes and after school programs in Wisconsin and Kansas. In addition, researchers will conduct portions of the study in undergraduate college settings in Kansas and Alabama.

Sample: The middle school population will include 6th grade students (approximately 260 students and 4 teachers) in Wisconsin and Kansas. The population is diverse with regard to race and socioeconomic status. The college population will include undergraduate students (pre service teachers and undergraduate science students) from Kansas and Alabama.

Intervention: In this project, the intervention will use descriptive (text and mathematical equations in the CoMPASS system) and depictive (visual displays such as graphics and animations) representations, as well as physical representations in the form of manipulatives (CoMPASS hands-on activities). Researchers will integrate two modes of learning science: reading digital linked text in a hypertext system, Concept Mapped Project-based Activity Scaffolding System (CoMPASS), and completing accompanying hands-on activities. Researchers will use CoMPASS educational materials (building on prior work on the CoMPASS project), and the principle guiding the design of CoMPASS materials is to enable students to see relationships between concepts and principles. Concept maps that change dynamically based on the concepts selected by students, supplementing the text in the CoMPASS system, help students to see these relationships.

Research Design and Methods: The research team will complete 9 studies to address the 3 primary aims of this study. The first aim of this project will be to investigate the effect of integrating three types of representations: physical representations (hands-on activities), dynamic visual representations (computer simulations) and descriptive representations (digital text) on student learning. Study 1 (of Aim 1) will investigate the effect of integrated representations on the learning outcomes of middle school students when this new approach is used in their science classes. Study 2 (of Aim 1), also conducted with middle school students, will focus on an in-depth analysis of the processes of learning from representations, through teaching interviews in an after-school study. Study 3 (of Aim 1) will replicate Study 2 with pre-service science teachers and undergraduate science students. The second aim will examine the role of two kinds of scaffolding: the scaffolding in instructional materials and scaffolding provided by an expert teacher. Study 4 (of Aim 2) will be conducted in middle school classes and test the differential effect of scaffolding built into the instructional materials and the support provided in facilitation by an expert teacher. Study 5 will explore the effect of scaffolding using teaching interviews with middle school students in an after-school setting, and Study 6 will do the same with pre-service science teachers and undergraduate science students. Finally, the research team will focus on the mapping between simulations and physical representations by embedding mechanisms in the simulations to enable students to connect between representations. The setting, participants and analysis methods of studies 7, 8 and 9 will be similar to those of studies 4, 5 and 6 respectively.

Control Condition: In each study, unique control conditions will be used. For example, in study 1, two of the classes taught by each teacher will use the CoMPASS intervention without the simulations.

Key Measures: Key measures include pre-and post tests of physics knowledge, a concept-mapping test, tests of reading awareness and spatial reasoning. Structured interviews of teacher facilitation (video recordings) and process measures in the form of audio recordings will also be collected.

Data Analytic Strategy: Descriptive statistics and graphical analyses will be used to support initial quantitative data reduction efforts. Researchers will conduct multivariate factorial analysis of covariance for the three outcomes of physics knowledge, depth ratio, and richness ratio across the four conditions; the pretest of physics knowledge will serve as the covariate. In addition, researchers will analyze the effect of teacher facilitation, both qualitatively and quantitatively. The data will be analyzed in two-level hierarchical linear models. Researchers will also transcribe and analyze the audio/video recordings using phenomenographic analysis, thematic analysis, and interaction analysis.

Website: http://ildl.wceruw.org/projects/completed/compass.html

Publications from this project:

Bopardikar, A., Gnesdilow, D., Puntambekar, S. (2011). Effects Of Using Multiple Forms Of Support To Enhance Students' Collaboration During Concept Mapping. In H. Spada, G. Stahl, N. Miyake, and N. Law (Eds.), Connecting Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning to Policy and Practice: CSCL2011 Conference Proceedings. Volume I- Long Papers, (pp.104–111). Hong Kong: International Society of the Learning Sciences.

Carmichael, A., Chini, J.J., Rebello, N.S., and Puntambekar, S. (2010). Comparing Student Learning In Mechanics Using Simulations and Hands-On Activities. Proceedings of the 2010 PhysicsEducation Research Conference, Portland, OR. AIP Publishing, 1289, 89.

Chini, J.J., Carmichael, A., Rebello, N.S., and Puntambekar, S. (2010). Effects Of A Prior Virtual Experience On Students' Interpretations Of Real Data. Proceedings of the 2010 PhysicsEducation Research Conference, Portland, OR. AIP Publishing, 1289, 97.

Gnesdilow, D., Smith, G.W., and Puntambekar, S., (2010). An Analysis Of Science Teachers' Classroom Discourse Relating To The Use Of Models and Simulations In Physics. In Z.C. Zacharia, M.P. Constantinou, and M. Papaevripidou, (Eds.), Application of New Technologies in Science Education: Proceedings of the International Conference of Computer Based Learning in Science (pp. 141–152). Warsaw, Poland: OEIiZK.

Myneni, L.S. and Narayanan, N.H. (2012). ViPS: An Intelligent Tutoring System For Exploring and Learning Physics Through Simple Machines. Proceedings of the Fourth International Conference on Computer Supported Education, Porto, Portugal, The Institute for Systems and Technologies of Information, Control and Communication, Portugal, pp.73–82.

Rouinfar, A., Madsen, A.M., Hoang, T.D.N., Puntambekar, S., and Rebello, N.S. (2011). Comparing The Development Of Students' Conceptions Of Pulleys Using Physical and Virtual Manipulatives. Proceedings of the 2011 Physics Education Research Conference, Omaha, NE. AIP Publishing, 1413, 331.

Smith, G.W. and Puntambekar, S. (2010). Examining The Combination Of Physical and Virtual Experiments In An Inquiry Science Classroom. In Z.C. Zacharia, M.P. Constantinou, and M. Papaevripidou (Eds.), Application of New Technologies in Science Education: Proceedings of the International Conference of Computer Based Learning in Science, (pp.153–164). Warsaw, Poland: OEIiZK.

Smith, G.W., Bopardikar, A. and Puntambekar, S. (2011). Exploring Joint Attention Around Shared Referential Anchors During Physical, Virtual and Mixed Reality Laboratory Activities. In H. Spada, G. Stahl, N. Miyake, and N. Law (Eds.), Connecting Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning to Policy and Practice: CSCL2011 Conference Proceedings. Volume II: Short Papers and Posters,(pp.731–735). Hong Kong: International Society of the Learning Sciences.

Sullivan, S.A., Gnesdilow, D., and Puntambekar, S. (2011). Navigation Behaviors and Strategies Used By Middle School Students To Learn From A Science Hypertext. Journal of Educational Multimedia and Hypermedia, 20 (4), 387–423.

Sullivan, S.A., Knight, K.D., and Puntambekar, S. (2011, July). Group Sense Making Of Multiple Sources In A Hypertext Environment. In H. Spada, G. Stahl, N. Miyake, and N. Law (Eds.), Connecting Research to Policy and Practice: Proceedings of the 9th International Computer Supported Collaborative Learning Conference – Volume 1, (pp.224–231). Hong Kong: International Society of the Learning Sciences.


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