We review results from two related studies on two aspects of multiple representations (MRs) which are considered to be essential for the learning from physics experiments, namely representational coherence ability (RCA) and the representation related conceptual change (RCC) of the learners. Both knowledge coherence and conceptual change are hard to achieve and in this chapter we propose and investigate a specific form of experiment-related learning tasks to foster these educational objectives called representational activity tasks (RATs). These tasks always involve two or more types of representations simultaneously and explicitly ask students to elaborate on various connections between them (such as comparing, mapping, completing etc.). The 6 week investigation took place within regular early secondary level physics classrooms on the topic of geometrical optics (converging lenses, image formation). The research showed that the form of explicit cognitive activation during learning (of geometrical optics) with representational activity tasks (RATs) appears to foster representational coherence ability (RCA). When merely addressed in an implicit way, as in usual learning tasks, this competence does not develop properly. Second, as many pre- and misconceptions are closely related to multiple representations (ray concept, ray constructions, etc.), asking students to work on these domain specific representation-misconception links is effective in supporting conceptual change. The design of the instructional key element (RATs) seems transferable to learning with multiple representations beyond the context of experiments and the specific topic of geometrical optics.
Müller, A., Hettmannsperger, R., Scheid, J., & Schnotz, W. (2017). Representational Competence, Understanding of Experiments, Phenomena and Basic Concepts in Geometrical Optics: A Representational Approach (pp. 209–229). https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-58914-5_10