C. Ferreira1, A. Arroio1, M. Baptista2

1Universidade de São Paulo (BRAZIL)
2Universidade de Lisboa (PORTUGAL)
The representation of scientific concepts involves the combination of more than one mode of representation: the concrete (or material mode) is three-dimensional and consists of resistant materials; the verbal mode is a description of something using verbal language (spoken or written); the symbolic mode consists of symbols and formulas, chemical equations and mathematical expressions; the visual mode consists of graphs, diagrams, photos, animations, simulations, and all virtual models; and lastly the gestural mode that makes use of body movements or its parts. The use of visual representations in science education has been increased over the last decades. The accelerated development of information and communication technologies followed by several studies in the cognitive theory area, have promoted the construction of many visual tools (3d concrete models, statics or dynamics virtual 2D and 3D images, simulations, animations, interactive software’s, etc) that have been available to educators. Visualizations (external representations) have become popular in science education, as educators seek new teaching methods in their classes. Visualizations can provide one method to describe how particular components in a complex mechanism interact, especially in dynamic systems, and also to provide experience with scientific explanations that can not be observed in the every day life. Nevertheless this beliefs, there are some problematic issues to address with the use of visualizations. How is a visual representation turned into knowledge? What are the mental processes that are involved in attaching a meaning to a representation? Others concerns are related to the design of the multimedia tools that are now very accessible to educators. Another trend of research deals with the education that teachers must have to be prepared to teach in this new environment. A way to achieve this it’s to introduce this issues on their in-service education or if possible on their pre-service education. With our research we aimed to investigate how in-service teachers (n=14) enrolled in a teachers’ training course of 40h, understand the nature and the role of these tools in science teaching as well as the impact of this training. The training course exposed them the learning theories (sociocultural and cognitive) that can support the use of visualizations, especially multimedia environments. It was also discussed the nature and models’ role in science. During the training teachers were invited to build in group teaching learning sequences (TLS) about some science content using visualizations. At the beginning a questionnaire to identify some previous conceptions on this issue have been applied and analyzed. On a later stage it was analyzed the TLS made by them and the audiovisual record of their oral communications to the class. It was also analyzed the final semi-structured interview with these teachers’ groups. As main result we highlight a development of the knowledge about these tools, especially on the impact of the visual language on apprenticeship and on the notion of science model. We could also observe a change on the reasons and criterion to use these tools. According our findings we can say that the training has expanded the teachers’ initial notion of models and the theoretical background that support the use of this visual resources which was reflected on theirs TLS.