Institute for Learning Sciences & Teacher Education

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Research Symposium: Learning from Viewing and Creating Animations in School Science

Yufei He (University of Sydney)

Literature on the uses of animation in education mostly focuses on cognitive processes in learning, with studies coming up with contradictory conclusions in terms of whether animation facilitates learning or not (Ayres et al., 2009; Lowe, 2003; Tversky et al., 2002). A common problem that may partly explain those contradictory findings is that the affordances of animation itself is largely overlooked in the relevant literature so far (Berney & Bétrancourt, 2016). From a social semiotics perspective, I model animation as a semiosis (a meaning-making semiotic system). The affordances of animation are explored in terms of the three metafunctions of animation–ideational, interpersonal and textual meanings, i.e. animation’s role in construing experience, enacting social relationship and composing information flow. In terms of ideational meanings, I draw on Doran and Martin’s (2016) field network to explore the construing of field knowledge in animation. The affordances of animation is then compared to that of image, with reference to Unsworth’s (2018) framework for analysing aggregation in images and infographics. Examples of animation used by secondary school science teachers in an ARC funded project and those from TED education are selected for an analysis of the three metafunctions.


Professor Garry Falloon (Macquarie University)

Research over a number of years has investigated the use of computer-based simulations for developing procedural and declarative knowledge in a range of areas, including military and pilot training, medical processes, and management education. They have also been used in science education, most frequently to help students understand difficult to learn experimental procedures, abstract science concepts, or provide access to science experiences inaccessible in conventional classrooms. However, few such studies have been undertaken with young students using app-based simulations in naturalistic classroom settings. This symposium will present methods, data and outcomes from a study of 5-year old students learning simple circuit building procedures and electricity concepts using a range of animated simulations on iPads. Using Kolb’s (1984) Experimental Learning Framework, it will provide an analysis of the students’ learning and transfer processes, revealing strategies they used to build knowledge and translate procedures between the animated simulations. While results indicate the simulations were useful for helping students learn basic construction procedures, limitations existed in the students’ ability to correctly interpret more abstract conceptual understandings. Additionally, the design of animated components in some simulations appeared to introduce or reinforce popularly-held and difficult to change misconceptions, such as appliances in circuits 『consuming’ current. Care needs to be taken when using simulations with young students that any conceptual understandings communicated in them are 『age-appropriate’, and presented in a way that minimizes the chance of misconceptions being generated.

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