Academic journal article Kuram ve Uygulamada Egitim Bilimleri

Modal Representations and Their Role in the Learning Process: A Theoretical and Pragmatic Analysis

Academic journal article Kuram ve Uygulamada Egitim Bilimleri

Modal Representations and Their Role in the Learning Process: A Theoretical and Pragmatic Analysis

Article excerpt

Recent developments in science and technology which resulted in improvements in learning and teaching environments have brought the concept of multimedia to the forefront. Multimedia is defined as a combination of multiple technical resources with the aim of representing new technologies and information (Schnotz & Lowe, 2003). Simply put, multimedia represents an environment that appeals to the senses and hence has an important role in the learning-teaching process (Akkoyunlu & Yilmaz, 2005). Akkoyunlu and Yilmaz (2005) elaborated on this concept, suggesting that it improves student motivation and achievement by addressing more than one sensory organ through the use of various resources. In this context, Mayer (2003) suggested that using various technologies does not change the nature of how the human mind works; however, when instructional technologies are intelligently designed, they can work as a powerful tool for human cognition. Furthermore, according to Mayer, students can learn more easily by building mental representations from the pictures and words presented to them in multimedia learning environments.

Akkoyunlu and Yilmaz (2005) consider instructional technologies as the primary resources of multimedia learning environments and have classified them according to the sensory organs they address as follows: visual media such as books, whiteboards, pictures, charts, graphs, real objects, or models; audio media such as radio, records, cassettes, and audio tapes; and audiovisual media which includes films, animations, television, and video. According to Schnotz and Lowe (2003), multimedia resources can be analyzed in three different levels: technical, such as computers and networks; sensory, which indicates the stimulation of senses using visual or auditory modality; and semiotic, which refers to representational formats such as text, pictures, and audio. Investigating the literature on teaching and learning based on these levels, Schnotz and Lowe concluded that the majority of research in this field has focused on the technical level rather than the sensory or semiotic. Therefore, the impact of the semiotic and sensory levels on learning is still open to investigation.

The main goal of multimedia learning is to initiate deep learning in students through the use of multimedia messages involving words, symbolic representations, and pictures rather than a mode of communication based solely on words (Mayer, 2003). Mayer further explained that the factors that initiate learning are not just media environments but also the contribution of media environments to cognitive processing. In other words, multimedia learning environments provide individuals with representations of various forms and alternative learning methods (Schnotz & Bannert, 2003). In these representations, the target content is presented using modes.

Modes consist of representations such as pictures, graphs, and diagrams. Representations can be composed of a single mode or multimode involving more than one mode. Representations play a role in the cognitive structure of an individual and how it selects and organizes information, examines symbolic structures, and maps exemplary structures (Schnotz & Bannert, 2003). In addition, a variety of representations in visual and auditory dimensions enriches cognitive processes and triggers the processes of selection, organization, and integration, which in turn promotes meaningful learning (Mayer, 2003). The effective use of representations for predefined purposes also provides cognitive diversity and depth to the learning and thinking processes. Thus, it has a potential to offer significant benefits that help achieve the desired outcomes (Gero & Reffat, 1997). In parallel with the growing interest in representations and their relationship to learning in various fields, research in science education in this particular area has also increased both nationally and internationally.

The research available in Turkey has focused on the impact of representations on learning the subjects of science, physics, and chemistry in primary, secondary, and university schools (Yesildag & Gunel, 2009; Koç, Kingir, & Günel, 2012); analyzing the transitions between different modes of representations (Çelik & Saglam-Arslan, 2012); and identifying the modal representations used in educational research (Demirbag & Günel, 2014). …

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