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Science education faces the difficult task of helping students understand and appropriately generalize scientific principles across a variety of superficially dissimilar specific phenomena. Can cognitive technologies be adapted to benefit both learning specific domains and generalizable transfer? This issue is examined by teaching students complex adaptive systems with computer-based simulations. With a particular emphasis on fostering understanding that transfers to dissimilar phenomena, the studies reported here examine the influence of different descriptions and perceptual instantiations of the scientific principle of competitive specialization. Experiment 1 examines the role of intuitive descriptions to concrete ones, finding that intuitive descriptions leads to enhanced domain-specific learning but also deters transfer. Experiment 2 successfully alleviated these difficulties by combining intuitive descriptions with idealized graphical elements. Experiment 3 demonstrates that idealized graphics are more effective than concrete graphics even when unintuitive descriptions are applied to them. When graphics are concrete, learning and transfer largely depend on the particular description. However, when graphics are idealized, a wider variety of descriptions results in levels of learning and transfer similar to the best combination involving concrete graphics. Although computer-based simulations can be effective for learning that transfers, designing effective simulations requires an understanding of concreteness and idealization in both the graphical interface and its description.
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... The effect of visualizations on learning and transfer also depends on contextual factors. Contextual factors are features of the learning environment other than the visualization, such as the wording of the lesson (Son & Goldstone, 2009) or the presence of other visualizations (Rau, 2017). One contextual factor explored in prior research is the generality of the language and labels used during the lesson. ...
... The labels used in a lesson can be specific to the exemplar being described or can be more general, conveying the idea that the information applies to a broader set of exemplars. Lessons with rich representations can promote generalization if the accompanying language is general (Flynn, Guba, & Fyfe, 2020;Son & Goldstone, 2009). Regardless of the language used during the lesson, children's production of general language after the lesson has been shown to predict their generalization (Fyfe, McNeil, & Rittle-Johnson, 2015). ...
Article
Visualizations are commonly used in educational materials; however, not all visualizations are equally effective at promoting learning. Prior research has supported the idea that both perceptually rich and bland visualizations are beneficial for learning and generalization. We investigated whether the perceptual richness of a life cycle diagram influenced children’s learning of metamorphosis, a concept that prior work suggests is difficult for people to generalize. Using identical materials, Study 1 (N = 76) examined learning and generalization of metamorphosis in first- and second-grade students, and Study 2 (N = 53) did so in fourth- and fifth-grade students. Bayesian regression analyses revealed that first and second graders learned more from the lesson with the perceptually rich diagram. In addition, fourth and fifth graders generalized more with the bland diagram, but these generalizations tended to be incorrect (i.e., generalizing metamorphosis to animals that do not undergo this type of change). These findings differ from prior research with adults, in which bland diagrams led to more correct generalizations, suggesting that the effect of perceptual richness on learning and generalization might change over development.
... Some evidence suggests that students learn and generalize information better when abstract visual representations are accompanied by specific (or concrete) labels or verbal descriptions (Son & Goldstone, 2009). Other research showed that using general labels (e.g., "AB") rather than specific labels (e.g., "blue-red") to describe a concrete representation of a pattern enhanced children's ability to transfer the rule to new patterns (Fyfe, McNeil, & Rittle-Johnson, 2015). ...
... Recall that some researchers believe that perceptually bland diagrams lead to better transfer because they are more abstract (Son & Goldstone, 2009). Analyzing the labels used by participants might provide insight into whether participants think about the exemplar in the lesson in an abstract or a concrete way. ...
Article
People often have difficulty understanding processes of biological change, and they typically reject drastic life cycle changes such as metamorphosis, except for animals with which they are familiar. Even after a lesson about metamorphosis, people often do not generalize to animals not seen during the lesson. This might be partially due to the perceptual richness of the diagrams typically used during lessons on metamorphosis, which serves to emphasize the individual animal rather than a class of animals. In two studies, we examined whether the perceptual richness of a diagram influences adults’ learning and transfer of knowledge about metamorphosis. One study was conducted in a laboratory setting and the other online. In both studies, adults who saw the bland diagram during the lesson accurately transferred more than adults who saw the rich diagram during the lesson. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
... The concept of 'groundedness' has been applied in education because some evidence suggests that concrete representations are effective ways to promote children's conceptual understanding in mathematics (Billstein, Libeskind, & Lott, 2009;Brown, McNeil, & potential benefits of multiple representations are not definitive because some learners may still fail to spontaneously connect their knowledge learned from one context with another (Freudenthal, 1991;Goldstone & Son, 2005;Landy & Goldstone, 2007;McNeil & Fyfe, 2012;Nathan, 2012;van Reeuwijk, 2001). In order to establish the connection more effectively, a 'progressive formalization' (Freudenthal, 1991;Nathan, 2012;van Reeuwijk, 2001) or 'concreteness fading' instructional approach (Goldstone & Son, 2005;Landy & Goldstone, 2007;McNeil & Fyfe, 2012;Son & Goldstone, 2009) has emerged, which suggests that the order of presentation for different representations is a key to successful learning in multiple contexts. Specifically, 'concreteness fading' refers to an instructional strategy that begins with concrete representations and then progressively proceed to teaching the same concept with more abstract representations. ...
... Freudenthal (1991) also postulates a similar idea called 'progressive formalization' in mathematics education, which suggests that instruction should start with concrete representations before the more abstract ones because mathematical meanings are grounded in everyday and familiar situations. More recently, Son and Goldstone (2009) argues that learners benefit from concreteness fading because concrete representations can serve as scaffolding for more abstract representations that are subsequently presented. The gradual concrete-toabstract fading process facilitates learners to establish the linkage between different representations, which enhances solid understanding of a concept and knowledge transfer. ...
Article
This study examined the effectiveness of various instructional strategies that aimed to enhance children's understanding of the inversion concept. One hundred and forty kindergartners were randomly assigned to each of the groups namely: (a) concrete-only, (b) abstract-only, (c) concreteness fading, (d) abstract-to-concrete, (e) control. They participated in a pre-test, two training sessions, an immediate post-test, and an 8-week delayed post-test. All the intervention groups showed significantly greater progress than the control group in solving the inversion problems in the post-tests. Concrete representations were more effective than abstract representations to promote knowledge transfer for children with lower prior knowledge. The superior benefits of concreteness fading appeared more prominent in the delayed post-test for children with lower prior knowledge. This study suggests that (1) concrete representations should not be avoided in teaching mathematics to children and (2) the order of presentation for various representations is a key for successful learning.
... Other research suggests that representations that are too realistic may impede learners' ability to transfer their understanding to another domain. Son and Goldstone (2009) conducted a series of three experiments focusing on the scientific principle of competitive specialization. First, they compared intuitive descriptions with concrete (i.e., realistic) representations and found that intuitive descriptions led to enhanced domain-specific learning but also deterred transfer. ...
... This extensive consumer testing during the development process is likely to be as important with educational games as it has proven to be with purely commercial games. *There is some evidence that idealized graphics are more effective than highly realistic graphics in facilitating science learning and transfer of learning across domains (Son and Goldstone, 2009; see Chapter 2). ...
... A pedagogical challenge in delivering education is the degree of concreteness of the delivered simulation elements. 20 The concreteness of the delivered educational module varies in a continuum from highly concrete, detailed and realistic representations to simplified and stylized illustrations. In our study, high concreteness was achieved due to the similarity between the 3D software package and real-world objects. ...
Article
Objectives: Evaluate of the effectiveness of a newly developed interactive 3D head and neck software package on students' situational interest and knowledge acquisition. Material and methods: A prospective randomized controlled study was carried out on two groups of dental students, 25 each. The study group "A" received education on head & neck anatomy using an interactive 3D software package. The same content was delivered to the students in group B via the standard PowerPoint presentation. The same lecturer delivered the educational modules over 80 minutes. Throughout the course of learning, the students completed a situational interest questionnaire, every 20 minutes. At the end of the session each participant completed a knowledge acquisition test. Results: Wilcoxon signed rank sum test showed a clear difference in the pattern of situational interest between the two groups, a statistically significant drop in the interest in the head and neck was noted among the students after 40 minutes in group B (p<0.05). An opposite pattern was detected among the students in group A. No statistically significant differences were detected in the knowledge acquisition between the two groups. Conclusion: The 3D software package of the head and neck anatomy has augmented the students' situational interest and improved their knowledge acquisition. However, further research is required to evaluate students' perception and experience of its use before it is widely generalized in universities and educational institutes.
... Moreover, such material may be more interesting and engaging than bland, decontextualized material and as a result have an advantage over generic material. On the other hand, while the negative effects of perceptual richness and contextualization of simple concepts such as numerical equivalence, shape categorization, and simple spatial relations attenuate with development (see also DeLoache, 1995DeLoache, , 2000, perceptually rich, contextualized representations of more advanced mathematical concepts can hinder even adults' ability to acquire mathematical knowledge (Kaminski, et al. 2008, 2013, Sloutsky, et al., 2005see Goldstone &Sakamoto, 2003 andGoldstone, 2009 for similar findings). Adults may fail to recognize common relations between advanced mathematical systems because they are much more complex than simple mathematical concepts, such as those based on cardinality. ...
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Background There is anecdotal evidence that many elementary teachers integrate mathematics lessons and art activities by having students first make colorful, rich material that is subsequently used in an instructional activity. However, it is unclear whether such activities effectively promote learning and transfer of mathematical concepts. The goal of the present research was to examine the use and effectiveness of such “math-and-art” activities on children’s ability to acquire basic fraction knowledge. We report the results of a survey of practicing elementary school teachers in the United States, their use of activities involving physical material, and the resources they use for ideas to supplement the standard curriculum. Two experiments examined first-grade students’ learning, transfer, and recognition of fraction knowledge from rich, contextualized material versus simple, generic material. Results The survey results confirm that many U.S. teachers use math-and-art activities and are often inspired by informal sources, such as Pinterest and YouTube. Experiment 1 examined the effectiveness of colorful, contextualized student-constructed material (paper pizzas) versus simple, pre-made material (monochromatic paper circles) in an instructional activity on fractions. Students who used the pre-made circles scored higher than those who used the student-made pizzas on pre-instruction tests of basic fraction knowledge, immediate tests of learning, and delayed tests of transfer. Experiment 2 tested students’ ability to spontaneously write fractions to describe proportions of pizzas and circles. Students who answered generic circle questions first were markedly more accurate than those who answered pizza questions first. Conclusions These findings suggest that rich, contextualized representations, including those made by the student, can hinder students’ learning and transfer of mathematical concepts. We are not suggesting that teachers never integrate mathematics and colorful, contextualized material, and activities. We do suggest that elementary students’ mathematics learning can benefit when initial instruction involves simple, generic, pre-made material and opportunities for students to make and use colorful, contextualized representations come later.
... The concept of emergence is often contained within complex adaptive systems (CAS) theory (Goldstone & Sakamoto, 2003;Son & Goldstone, 2008;Goldstone & Wilensky, 2008;Hmelo-Silver & Azevedo, 2006) and can be associated with decentralized systems (Resnick, 1996) and self-organizing systems (Moussaid, Garnier, Theraulaz & Helbing, 2009). Thus, I borrow from the existing descriptions in the broader CAS literature to define emergence and to support the categorization of idea generation as an emergent process. ...
Article
This study’s purpose was to compare the effectiveness of the traditional, lecture and discussion method to a digital game-based learning (DGBL) approach on students’ near and far knowledge transfer abilities in agriculture and mathematics regarding a unit on swine diseases in animal science courses. Two research questions guided the study, which employed a quasi-experimental, between-groups design. No statistically significant differences (p > .05) were found between the counterfactual group and the treatment group regarding students’ near and far knowledge transfer. Based on this result, it can be recommended that professional development opportunities be created with an emphasis on using serious games to teach course content for in-service teachers without diminishing students’ knowledge transfer. Specifically, the creators of this professional development should consider emphasizing Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge development in teachers. In addition, future investigations should focus on the kind of transfer that occurred, whether positive, negative, or zero.
Chapter
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