Asia-Pacific Forum on Science Learning and Teaching, Volume 15, Issue 2, Article 2 (Dec., 2014)
Visualization in research and science teachers’ professional development

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Visualization is not panaceas, but based on what we know of visualization research, we hope to contribute to teachers’ professional development and help to promote students’ science learning. According to Variation Theory, every object, in our case, visualization, can be interpreted differently through different perspectives and by different persons (Rundgren & Tibell, 2010). For teachers it is therefore important to know how the visualization was developed and what concepts were embraced in the different features of the visualization. What features of visualization together with teaching strategies that can be applied to teaching and what concepts that have been learned by students are also important for teachers to be equipped with. Accordingly, there are three aspects we want to make teachers consider before using visualization. Firstly, teachers need to know the key features linked to the concepts embedded in the specific visualization and how to direct students’ attention towards that. In so doing, the overload of working memory and the causes of misconceptions could be avoided. Secondly, they need to know how to promote meaningful integration between students’ prior knowledge and their efforts to provide proper scaffolding strategies. Thirdly, it is necessary for teachers to know how to assess students’ understanding of the target concepts and how to know what prior knowledge is lacking and what knowledge can be learned by students.

From the design perspective, the effective design of visualization needs to focus on how to facilitate the deep understanding of science concept for students. Because of the complexity of visualization, the design of visualization is hard to balance against often-competing demands of scientific accuracy, technical constraints, and clarity of communication (Tasker & Dalton, 2008). Therefore, multi-disciplinary teams as well as the involvement of different stakeholders (scientists, teachers, students and visual designers) are needed to improve the design of visualization in science education in order to benefit science teaching and learning.


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