Coordinator: Dean's Office
Mode of Presentation: Virtual Classroom Platform [Zoom meeting application]
Zoom link: https://zoom.us/j/99652198869?pwd=eEZHRFdNS09EUGJRelNUNzhtMWJuZz09
Meeting ID: 996 5219 8869
Touchy Feely Vectors: A design-based study examining the role of representational media in STEM cognition
Recent theories argue that cognition, in general, is 'constituted', i.e. brought into being, by sensorimotor interactions between the body and the environment. Extensions of this constitutivity hypothesis' suggest that for the phenomena and models (in STEM) not directly accessible to sensorimotor interactions, cognition is through multiple external representations (MERs). This theoretical position leads to a corollary: the understanding and processing of STEM concepts may be shaped by representational media (text, animation etc.) encoding the MERs.
To test this corollary, we examined: 1) how existing static media encoded a complex STEM modeling concept (vectors), and 2) whether the limitations of this media correlated with students' conceptual reasoning behaviour (CRB). Results indicated a possible correlation. To further investigate this, we: 1) designed a new media interface (Touchy-Feely Vectors, TFV), which compensated for the interaction limitations of textbook media, and 2) examined whether the principled design of TFV led to systematic changes in students' CRB. Results indicated a change in CRB correlated with the design. We then examined the robustness of this result, by augmenting existing textbook media using virtual lesson plans (co-designed with the teachers) based on TFV, and a larger field study (N=266) in real-world classroom situations. Results showed that both students' CRB and classroom teaching/learning practices changed.
These results, and the principled design rationale of the TFV system, together indicate that interactive affordances of representational media play a critical role in STEM cognition, thus supporting the constitutivity hypothesis, as well as recent 'field' theories of cognition. Further, our operationalization also illustrates a systematic approach to the design of digital media for STEM learning in developing nation contexts.