Simulations and models in the classroom

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Stern et al., 2003. In this study, participants were placed in 3 different groups that all presented information on stockbroking. One group presented the information without any graphs, the other provided a professionally-drawned graph (passive graphical representation), and the final one asked students to draw the graphs (active graphical representation). All participants were then presented with a set of questions dealing with 'transfer material' to see how their ability to transfer the material presented to related areas. It was found that participants provided with a graph (passive) performed better than those without any graph. Nevertheless, it was found that those asked to draw the graph performed the best. The authors reason that active graphical representations force students to re-organize concepts and create links between disciplines. The authors also accounted for differing academic backgrounds by running a second study in which they divided participants with lower levels of education into the same 3 conditions, but provided both the graph groups with additional instruction. The study supported initial findings as the active graphical representation group also performed the best. Click here to access the study.


Stern, E. "Improving Cross-content Transfer in Text Processing by Means of Active Graphical Representation." Learning and Instruction 13.2 (2003): 191-203. Print.