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Theses Doctoral

Learning STEM Through Integrative Visual Representation

Virk, Satyugjit Singh

Previous cognitive models of memory have not comprehensively taken into account the internal cognitive load of chunking isolated information and have emphasized the external cognitive load of visual presentation only. Under the Virk Long Term Working Memory Multimedia Model of cognitive load, drawing from the Cowan model, students presented with integrated animations of the key neural signal transmission subcomponents where the interrelationships between subcomponents are visually and verbally explicit, were hypothesized to perform significantly better on free response and diagram labeling questions, than students presented with isolated animations of these subcomponents. This is because the internal attentional cognitive load of chunking these concepts is greatly reduced and hence the overall cognitive load is less for the integrated visuals group than the isolated group, despite the higher external load for the integrated group of having the interrelationships between subcomponents presented explicitly. Experiment 1 demonstrated that integrating the subcomponents of the neuron significantly enhanced comprehension of the interconnections between cellular subcomponents and approached significance for enhancing recall of the layered molecular correlates of the cellular structures and their interconnections. Experiment 2 corrected time on task confounds from Experiment 1 and focused on the cellular subcomponents of the neuron only. Results from the free response essay subcomponent subscores did demonstrate significant differences in favor of the integrated group as well as some evidence from the diagram labeling section. Results from free response, short answer and What-If (problem solving), and diagram labeling detailed interrelationship subscores demonstrated the integrated group did indeed learn the extra material they were presented with. This data demonstrating the integrated group learned the extra material they were presented with provides some initial support for the assertion that chunking mediated the greater gains in learning for the neural subcomponent concepts over the control.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Human Development
Thesis Advisors
Black, John B
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
September 16, 2013