Effects of abstract and concrete simulation elements on science learning
Journal of Computer Assisted Learning Volume 31, Number 4, ISSN 1365-2729 Publisher: Wiley
Contemporary evidence on the effectiveness of concrete and abstract representations in science education is based solely on studies conducted in college context. There it has been found that learning with abstract representations produces predominantly better outcomes than learning with concrete representations and combining the representations can be even more productive. In the present study, 52 elementary school students used a computer simulation to discover the basic principles of electric circuits. The perceptual concreteness of simulation elements either remained concrete or switched from concrete to abstract during the learning. In order to compare the relative effectiveness of the learning conditions and assess the changes in students' conceptual understanding, the students completed a subject knowledge assessment questionnaire before and after learning with the simulation. According to the results, the students gained a better understanding of the circuits by learning with constantly concrete simulation elements than switching from concrete to abstract elements during the learning. Constantly concrete elements also enhanced the learning process by reducing the learning times. The outcomes of the study suggest that the effects of concrete and abstract representations in science education are notably different in elementary school context as compared with college contexts.
Jaakkola, T. & Veermans, K. (2015). Effects of abstract and concrete simulation elements on science learning. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 31(4), 300-313. Wiley.