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Title: Use of external representations in science: Prompting and reinforcing prior knowledge activation
Authors: Wetzels, Sandra
Kester, Liesbeth
Van Merriënboer, Jeroen
Keywords: external representations
prior knowledge activation
level of prior knowledge
Issue Date: 2-Nov-2010
Abstract: This chapter outlines a theoretical framework providing insights into the use of low-sophisticated external representations during prior knowledge activation in the science domain. This framework distinguishes representations that prompt (i.e., initiate) prior knowledge activation from representations that reinforce (i.e., facilitate) the activation process. Prompts that consist of pictorial representations (e.g., pictures, animations) will be more suitable than verbal representations to activate structural and causal models important for science learning. Furthermore, external representations may reinforce the activation process. There are limits to the amount of information that can be activated simultaneously because of human’s limited working memory capacity. Self-constructing representations (i.e., note taking) might offload working memory while activating prior knowledge. It is argued that the strength of the prompting and reinforcing effects of external representations during prior knowledge activation is mediated by learners' level of prior knowledge. An empirical study that provides support for the framework is reported.
Description: Wetzels, S. A. J., Kester, L., & Van Merriënboer, J. J. G. (2010). Use of external representations in science: Prompting and reinforcing prior knowledge activation. In L. Verschaffel, E. de Corte, T. de Jong, & J. Elen (Eds.), Use of representations in reasoning and problem solving: Analysis and improvement (pp. 225-241). Abingdon, UK: Routledge.
ISBN: 978-0-415-55674-3
Appears in Collections:1. LC: Publications and Preprints

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