The University of Edinburgh -
Division of Informatics
Forrest Hill & 80 South Bridge

Research Paper #646

Title:The Relationship Between External Representations and Analytical Reasoning Performance: Implications for the Design of a Learning Environment
Authors:Cox,R; Brna,P
Date:Jul 1993
Presented:In the Proceedings of workshop on graphical representations, reasoning and communication held at AI-ED93, Edinburgh, 33-36
Keywords:graphical representation, reasoning & problem solving, conceptual change/education
Abstract:Common external representations (ERs) include text, log.c, diagrams, tables, graphs and maps. Evidence for the effectiveness of ERs comes from two main sources - psychology and logic. Questions about effectiveness of ERs are important in relation to educational hypertext and hypermedia systems which use graphically-based approaches to structure information. This study describes a learning environment (switchER) which can easily be used for selecting, constructing and using a range of ERs in solving analytical reasoning problems. We describe how switchER has been used to explore a number of hypotheses in that domain about the relationship between prior knowledge of ERs and 1. representation selection, 2. the time course of problem solving, and 3. problem characteristics. The results indicate the importance of considering individual differences in the design of intelligent support for switchER. The results of this and other experiments will inform the design for the development of switchER. The switchER system facilities learning via ER switching as a means by which students may resolve impasses in their reasoning.

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