Publication Type:

Contributed Talk


2023 AAPT Winter Meeting, Portland, Oregon (2023)


Using a variety of external representations is an effective pedagogical approach that can also lead to deeper student understanding of these representations. We will present the results of studying a small-group classroom activity that includes several external representations (a pre-programmed Mathematica notebook, a tabletop whiteboard, and a 3D plastic graph), which each had some feature that was generated by the students themselves. We discuss how these external representations supported the students’ efforts in analyzing the electric potential due to collections of point charges. Our analysis suggests that there are unique benefits to the use of these external representations, and that some of these benefits differ between the representations. We found particularly interesting effects on student reasoning due to the incremental nature of generating these representations, as well as the ways the students connected between representations.

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