Journal of Science Education and Technology vol:24 issue:5 pages:684-695
Previous research on multiple external representations
(MER) indicates that sequencing representations (compared with presenting them as a whole) can, in some cases, increase conceptual understanding if there is interference
between internal and external representations. We tested this mechanism by sequencing different combinations of scientific and abstract chemical representations and
presenting them to 133 learners with low prior knowledge
of the represented domain. The results provide insight into
three separate mechanisms of learning with MER. (1) A
memory (number of ideas reproduced) and (2) an accuracy
(correctness of these ideas) effects occur when two representations are presented in a sequence. An accuracy and a (3) redundancy (number of redundant ideas remembered)
effects occur when three representations are presented in a
sequence. A necessary precondition for these effects is that
descriptive formats are placed before depictive formats.
The identified effects are analyzed in terms of the concept
of cognitive dissonance.