, Volume 37, Issue 3, pp 313-331
Date: 09 Jan 2007

Representational Issues in Students Learning About Evaporation

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Abstract

This study draws on recent research on the central role of representation in learning. While there has been considerable research on students’ understanding of evaporation, the representational issues entailed in this understanding have not been investigated in depth. The study explored students’ engagement with evaporation phenomena through various representational modes. The study indicates how a focus on representation can provide fresh insights into the conceptual task involved in learning science through an investigation of students’ responses to a structured classroom sequence and subsequent interviews over a year. A case study of one child’s learning demonstrates the way conceptual advances are integrally connected with the development of representational modes. The findings suggest that teacher-mediated negotiation of representational issues as students construct different modal accounts can support enriched learning by enabling both (a) richer conceptual understanding by students, and (b) enhanced teacher insights into students’ thinking.