Sequencing embedded multimodal representations in a writing to learn approach to the teaching of electricity


  • Examining the consequence of sequencing embedded multiple modal representations within a writing to learn approach to improving understanding of the physics topic of electricity.


In the study of science topics especially in physics students are expected to move between different modes of representation when dealing with a particular concept as any science concept can be represented in several different modes. The difficulty for students is that they are often unable to move between these multi-modal representations and thus struggle with having a rich conceptual understanding of the topic. In this study students are asked to explain their understandings of the topic through writing and embedding different modes of representation, text only, text plus math, and text plus graph. A pre-post test design was used to compare performances of groups who used different modes in their writing during a three-staged unit of electricity. While students' scores were not statistically different at the end of the first stage, at the end of the stage 2, students who were asked to embed mathematical representation in their letters to explain concepts of Faraday's Law of Induction had test scores that were significantly better than either of the other two conditions. At the end of the stage 3 there were several statistical mean differences noted supporting the pattern of the advantage of using embedded text plus mathematical representation in writings. © 2009 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Res Sci Teach 46: 225–247, 2009