Supporting Scientific Explanations with Drawings and Narratives on Tablet Computers: An Analysis of Explanation Patterns

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Researchers and educators have paid much attention to scientific explanation as it is regarded as one of the important scientific inquiry skills. Recently, Tablet computers have allowed students to draw together with text and vocal narrations as a learning strategy to prompt them to articulate their scientific explanations. However, the literature regarding exactly how students use drawing and vocal narrations on Tablet computers to explain scientific questions is still scant. Therefore, by gathering the drawings and narrations which were generated by 41 high school students, this study aimed to explore what patterns students may apply to construct their scientific explanations for the four seasons with Tablet computers. It was found that the students perceived a lower extent of using memorizing and the test-to-learn concept to learn science but perceived a higher level of deep motivation and strategy in the drawing-based scientific explanation activity than they did in their prior experience. This study also suggests five hierarchical explanation patterns when using Tablet computers in scientific explanations, including portraying life experience, reciting alternative conceptions, summarizing referential facts, and depicting comparative and analytical processes. A further analysis found that the students who adopted high-level explanation patterns (i.e., depicting comparative and analytical processes) obtained higher scores in the learning test than those who adopted low-level explanation patterns (i.e., portraying life experience, reciting alternative conceptions, and summarizing referential facts). Therefore, the explanation patterns adopted by the students played a prominent role in their scientific understandings. Educators may need to help students to apply effective explanation patterns in their scientific explanations with technology-assisted environments.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)173-184
Number of pages12
JournalAsia-Pacific Education Researcher
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2016

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