Chapter 3: Representational Competence Under the Magnifying Glass—The Interplay Between Student Reasoning Skills, Conceptual Understanding, and the Nature of Representations 1
Published:21 Dec 2022
Learning and communicating with representations is an essential component of chemistry instruction. The process of successfully using representations to think about, communicate, and create meaning for a phenomenon defines representational competence. Understanding how students develop and use representational competence skills requires a holistic account of the nature and interactions of complex factors. Schönborn and Anderson proposed an empirical model suggesting that learning with a representation is affected by the external features (mode), scientific knowledge of relevance (conceptual), cognitive skills a student must utilize to make sense of that representation (reasoning), and the interactions between these factors. Students' overall ability to develop representational competence skills depends on the nature of the contribution of each factor. In this chapter, we employ Schönborn and Anderson's model to characterize how organic chemistry students interpret, translate, generate, and usedash-wedge diagrams and Newman projections. This work demonstrates that the appropriateness of student reasoning can vary across tasks focusing on different representations, different representational competence skills, and whether the student attends to the external features or the conceptual information embedded in the representation.