TitleStructural Features of External Representation in Physics
Publication TypePresentation
Year of Publication2021
AuthorsGire, Elizabeth, Price Edward, Manogue Corinne A., Dray Tevian, De Leone Charles J., Hahn Kelby T., and Alfson Jonathan W.
KeywordsCognition, E&M, Kinesthetic, Quantum Mechanics, Representations, Surface Model

External representations play a vital role in doing and learning physics. At this poster, we will discuss a new framework for describing external representations and implications for teaching. First, we identify three aspects that distinguish one representation from another: the conceptual referent, the medium of the representation, and how information is organized in the representation. We then identify structural features of representations that take into account both the form and the function of the representation. We will illustrate this framework of structural features with some examples, including plastic “surface" models of 2D functions and an “arms” representation of quantum states. Based on this framework, we suggest strategies for helping students learn to interpret and use external representations.