ERG SES H 05, Science and Education
A representation is defined in the literature as a symbolization of an object or process (Rosengrat, Etkina, & van Heuvelen, 2007). The use of multiple representations in teaching is a way to improve students’ problem solving skills (Maries, 2014; Nguyen & Rebello, 2011; van Heuvelen, 1991). In physics, the main examples of multiple representations cover verbal, pictorial, graphical, and mathematical representations etc., and the use of such multiple representations influences student performance in physics (Kohl & Finkelstein, 2004, 2005, 2006; Meltzer, 2005; Rosengrat, Etkina, & van Heuvelen, 2007). To provide an example, in their study, Kohl and Finkelstein (2004) indicated that the students’ performance was higher in physics problem solving when pictorial representation was employed rather than other representations. On the other hand, in another study by Ergin, Comert, and Sari (2012), students’ performance was better in verbal and mathematical representations while their lowest achievement was in graphical format. At this point, it should be noted that students’ performance differs in using different representational formats even in isomorphic problem statements (Kohl & Finkelstein, 2005; Meltzer, 2005). For example, in Kohl and Finkelstein (2005)’s study, students showed significantly different performance on isomorphic problems with different representations.
Literature suggests that students may find some specific formats of representations more difficult than others (Kohl, 2007). When especially, they do not have enough opportunity to solve problems with multiple representations in their classes, students may have difficulty with mastering different representations and their performance in problem solving may decrease. As Rosengrat et al. (2009) suggest, representing a problem with multiple formats can be an effective way to increase student success in problem solving. In another word, when students solve problems with multiple representations, they become less sensitive to the format of the problems (Kohl & Finkelstein, 2006a).
Literature underlines that when students can use different representations, they become better problem solvers (Maries, 2014). More specifically, when they learn to solve problems through the use of multiple representations, they can perform better compared to the students who traditionally learn problem solving strategies. Being better problem solvers in physics is an important issue as problem solving is one of the main processes that students develop an understanding of physics (Maries, 2014). Thus, the use of multiple representations in physics becomes more important since it is connected to students’ problem solving ability (DeLeone & Gire, 2005). Moreover, in addition to students’ prior knowledge as well as the subject taught (Kohl & Finkelstein, 2006b), the use of multiple representations in teaching enhances students’ understanding of science (Adadan, 2012; Kaya Sengoren, 2014).
In core of this discussion, in this study, the aim was to examine the physics engineering students’ performance on using multiple representations, and to investigate the correlation between their performance in using different types of representations and their meta representational skills through multiple representation usage survey.
The research questions to answer were:
1) How participants’ performances differ in specific types of representations?
2) Is there any correlation between participants’ performance on using different representations and their meta representational skills?
Adadan, E. (2012). Using multiple representations to promote grade 11 students’ scientific understanding of the particle theory of matter. Res Sci Educ. doi 10.1007/ s11165-012-9299-9. DeLeone, C. & Gire, E. (2005). The effect of representation use on student problem solving. In Proceedings of the 2005 PERC. 2005: AIP Conference Proceedings. Ergin, I., Comert, R., & Sari, M. (2012). Coulomb's law related to subject the differences created by using different representations of questions on evaluating the student's physics achievements. Pegem Egitim ve Ogretim Dergisi, 2(2), 39-50. Kaya Sengoren, S. (2014). Prospective physics teachers' use of multiple representations for solving the image formation problems. Journal of Baltic Science Education, 13(1), 59-74. Kohl, P. B. (2007). Towards an understanding of how students use representations in physics problem solving. Doctoral dissertation, Colorado University. Kohl, P. B., & Finkelstein, N. D. (2004). Representational format, student choice, and problem solving in physics. Physics Education Research Conference. Part of the PER Conference series Sacramento, California: August 4-5, Volume 790, 121-124. Kohl, P. B., & Finkelstein, N. D. (2005). Student representational competence and self-assessment when solving physics problems. Physical Review Special Topics-Physics Education Research, 1, 010104. Retrieved August 12, 2016, from http://prst-per.aps.org. Kohl, P. B., & Finkelstein, N. D. (2006a). Representational competence and introductory physics. In P. Heron, L. McCullough, & J. Marx, Physics Education Research Conference (2005 AIP Conference Proceedings) (pp. 93-96). Melville, NY: American Institute of Physics. Kohl, P. B., & Finkelstein, N. D. (2006b). Effects of representation on students solving physics problems: A fine-grained characterization. Physical Review Special Topics-Physics Education Research, 2, 010106. Retrieved August 12, 2016, from http://prst-per.aps.org Maries, A. (2014). Role of multiple representations in physics problem solving. Doctoral dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. Meltzer, D.E. (2005). Relation between students’ problem-solving performance and representational mode. Am. J. Phys., 73, 463-478. Nguyen, D-H., & Rebello, N. S. (2011), Students’ difficulties with multiple representations in ıntroductory mechanics. US-China Education Review, 8(3). Rosengrant, D., Etkina, E., & Van Heuvelen, A. (2007). An overview of recent research on multiple representations. AIP Conference Proceedings, 883(1), 149–152. Van Huevelen, A. (1991). Learning to think like a physicist: A review of research-based instructional strategies. Am. J. Phys., 59, 891-897.
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