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Teaching and learning about force with a representational focus : pedagogy and teacher change
journal contributionposted on 2010-01-21, 00:00 authored by Peter Hubber, Russell TytlerRussell Tytler, F Haslam
A large body of research in the conceptual change tradition has shown the difficulty of learning fundamental science concepts, yet conceptual change schemes have failed to convincingly demonstrate improvements in supporting significant student learning. Recent work in cognitive science has challenged this purely conceptual view of learning, emphasising the role of language, and the importance of personal and contextual aspects of understanding science. The research described in this paper is designed around the notion that learning involves the recognition and development of students’ representational resources. In particular, we argue that conceptual difficulties with the concept of force are fundamentally representational in nature. This paper describes a classroom sequence in force that focuses on representations and their negotiation, and reports on the effectiveness of this perspective in guiding teaching, and in providing insight into student learning. Classroom sequences involving three teachers were videotaped using a combined focus on the teacher and groups of students. Video analysis software was used to capture the variety of representations used, and sequences of representational negotiation. Stimulated recall interviews were conducted with teachers and students. The paper reports on the nature of the pedagogies developed as part of this representational focus, its effectiveness in supporting student learning, and on the pedagogical and epistemological challenges negotiated by teachers in implementing this approach.