The effects of representational format on learning combinatorics from an interactive computer simulation

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Abstract

The current study investigated the effects of different external representational formats on learning combinatorics and probability theory in an inquiry based learning environment. Five conditions were compared in a pre-test post-test design: three conditions each using a single external representational format (Diagram, Arithmetic, or Text), and two conditions using multiple representations (Text + Arithmetic or Diagram + Arithmetic). The major finding of the study is that a format that combines text and arithmetics was most beneficial for learning, in particular with regard to procedural knowledge, that is the ability to execute action sequences to solve problems. Diagrams were found to negatively affect learning and to increase cognitive load. Combining diagrams with arithmetical representations reduced cognitive load, but did not improve learning outcomes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)503-517
Number of pages16
JournalInstructional science
Volume37
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2009

Keywords

  • External representations - Multiple representations - Interactive representations - Simulation-based learning - Inquiry learning - Mathematics - Cognitive load

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