Universidade de Trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro (PORTUGAL)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2015 Proceedings
Publication year: 2015
Pages: 4996-5005
ISBN: 978-84-606-5763-7
ISSN: 2340-1079
Conference name: 9th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 2-4 March, 2015
Location: Madrid, Spain
From an epistemological view, a computer simulation (CS) can be faced as mediator artefacts that provide students new experiences, perspectives and insights that allow the construction of knowledge. CS can display visual representations (VRs) that allow visualizations impossible to do in other ways.
VR displayed by CS can work as important tools that will enlarge, improve and scaffold the students’ epistemic work in the classroom. VR displayed by CS can work as symbolic mediators when used in a communicational context to inform, or illustrate, an idea (or a concept). Also, VRs can work as mediators of action when used in the interaction with CS context, to allow the students manipulate the CS, enabling them to change its configuration, or offering reformulations of or new VRs from a concept or phenomena.
The main goal of this research is highlight the importance of VR (displayed by CS) used in the classroom as symbolic mediator or mediator of action to promote students’ epistemic work. Research questions: a) what is the impact on the occurrence of students’ epistemic practices (EPs) when teachers and students’ use VR as symbolic mediator or as mediator of action? b) what teacher’s mediation actions, concerning the use of VR can promote the development of students’ EPs in the classroom?
This research deal with a qualitative and interpretative analyse, from two case studies involving two physical sciences teachers from secondary school in physical sciences classroom (students age 15-18 years) with different teaching experience, same academic background, and same research experience in the field of physical sciences education. Each teacher taught three lessons and students develop inquiry work organized into small groups.
We collect several types of data from the lessons (e.g. audio recording, documents from teacher or students, print screens, photos, indication of silences and gestures, explicit teacher’s intentions and decisions, students’ notebook, teacher notebook) to produce multimodal narratives (MN), to organize and systematize data. MNs were constructed by teachers themselves and have the same structure, which allows its comparability. The content analyses of MN allow us the identification of the evidences about: (a) the use of VR (by students and teachers, both as symbolic mediator or as mediator of action), (b) the students’ EP that take place and (c) the teacher’s actions, concerning the use of VR that promote or enable such EP. These evidences were analysed to answer to the research questions.
Main findings: (a) the students’ use of VR as mediator of action is related with the occurrence of a larger number of students’ EPs; the students’ use of VR only as symbolic mediator seems to have low impact in the occurrence of students’ EP; the use of VR by the teachers, without the complement of other mediation actions, doesn’t seem to have a great influence on students’ EPs; (b) there are important mediation actions, related with the use of VR, with great impact on students’ EPs: task proposal as challenge, give autonomy to students, request for additional aspects, synthesize and make explicit the epistemic statute of the students’ work done or ongoing. Taking into account the differences on using the VR displayed by CS (as mediator of action or symbolic mediator) may improve the quality of students’ epistemic work and teacher’s mediation.
Computer simulations, Visual representations, Teacher mediation, Students epistemic practices, Physical science classroom