PhD student, Indian Institute of Technology Bombay
We report the design, development and testing of a fully manipulable computer interface, designed (a) as an intervention tool to support imagination-based integration of multiple external representations (MERs), and (b) as a probe to understand the cognitive processes involved in MER integration. The interface has fully manipulable and interconnected MERs (simulation, graph and equation) representing a simple oscillator (pendulum) system. The interface design is inspired by distributed and embodied cognition approaches.
We assessed MER integration using this interface, with 7th grade students, who interacted with the interface for an hour. They then answered, as well as verbally reasoned about questions that tested MER integration. Students' actions on the interface (gaze and mouse clicks) were recorded during their interaction with the interface. These were correlated to their reasoning, to understand actions (patterns of interaction) that could have potentially led to integration.
The results provide a very nuanced view of the relationship between manipulability/interaction and integration. Good performers (on the MER integration tasks) had a high level of interaction, but with significant variations between participants, suggesting that interaction is needed for integration, but there is no single interaction pattern supporting integration. However, students exhibiting similar interaction patterns as the good performers performed badly in the integration tasks. This suggests interactivity is not sufficient for MER integration. The results indicate that interactivity can scaffold MER integration, but cannot guarantee it. Support from facilitators is needed for MER integration, as in any other complex task where novices' attention needs to be guided.
Abstract: The basic premise underlying this research is that scientific phenomena are best learned by creating an external representation that complies with the complex and dynamic nature of such phenomena. Effective representations are assumed to incorporate three key characteristics: they are graphical, dynamic, and provide a pre-specified outline of the domain. This study examined the impact of these characteristics on performance and learning. High school students first read an instructional text about glucose–insulin regulation and then created a representation of its content. Representations differed regarding the key characteristics such that the summary (n = 15), concept map (n = 16), model (n = 23), and outlined model (n = 21) all incorporated one additional characteristic compared to their precursor. Main results indicated learning effects in each of these four conditions. Furthermore, creating a model was found to enhance students’ learning more than creating a concept map, and students who completed an outlined model were found to learn more than those who created a model from scratch. In conclusion, this study does not univocally verify the necessity of all key characteristics individually, but the results do show that a representational format that combines all key characteristics enhances learning more than other formats.
Pub.: 02 Dec '14, Pinned: 27 Jul '17
Abstract: Making sense of complex objects is difficult, and typically requires the use of external representations to support cognitive demands while reasoning about the objects. Visualizations are one type of external representation that can be used to support sensemaking activities. In this paper, we investigate the role of two design strategies in making the interactive features of visualizations more supportive of users’ exploratory needs when trying to make sense of complex objects. These two strategies are visibility and complementarity of interactions. We employ a theoretical framework concerned with human–information interaction and complex cognitive activities to inform, contextualize, and interpret the effects of the design strategies. The two strategies are incorporated in the design of Polyvise, a visualization tool that supports making sense of complex four-dimensional geometric objects. A mixed-methods study was conducted to evaluate the design strategies and the overall usability of Polyvise. We report the findings of the study, discuss some implications for the design of visualization tools that support sensemaking of complex objects, and propose five design guidelines. We anticipate that our results are transferrable to other contexts, and that these two design strategies can be used broadly in visualization tools intended to support activities with complex objects and information spaces.
Pub.: 28 Oct '16, Pinned: 27 Jul '17
Abstract: Embodied cognition posits that abstract conceptual knowledge such as mental representations of time and space are at least partially grounded in sensorimotor experiences. If true, then the execution of whole-body movements should result in modulations of temporal and spatial reference frames. To scrutinize this hypothesis, in two experiments participants either walked forward, backward or stood on a treadmill and responded either to an ambiguous temporal question (Experiment 1) or an ambiguous spatial question (Experiment 2) at the end of the walking manipulation. Results confirmed the ambiguousness of the questions in the control condition. Nevertheless, despite large power, walking forward or backward did not influence the answers or response times to the temporal (Experiment 1) or spatial (Experiment 2) question. A follow-up Experiment 3 indicated that this is also true for walking actively (or passively) in free space (as opposed to a treadmill). We explore possible reasons for the null-finding as concerns the modulation of temporal and spatial reference frames by movements and we critically discuss the methodological and theoretical implications.
Pub.: 05 Apr '17, Pinned: 27 Jul '17
Abstract: The present study aimed to provide a summary of findings relevant to the influence of motor expertise on performance in spatial tasks and to examine potential moderators of this effect. Studies of relevance were those in which individuals involved in activities presumed to require motor expertise were compared to non-experts in such activities. A final set of 62 effect sizes from 33 samples was included in a multilevel meta-analysis. The results showed an overall advantage in favor of motor experts in spatial tasks (d=0.38). However, the magnitude of that effect was moderated by expert type (athlete, open skills/ball sports, runner/cyclist, gymnast/dancers, musicians), stimulus type (2D, blocks, bodies, others), test category (mental rotation, spatial perception, spatial visualization), specific test (Mental Rotations Test, generic mental rotation, disembedding, rod-and-frame test, other), and publication status. These findings are discussed in the context of embodied cognition and the potential role of activities requiring motor expertise in promoting good spatial performance.
Pub.: 25 Apr '17, Pinned: 27 Jul '17