Backup copy - i-ACT

Using iCT to Apply Concepts in Teams


In the teaching of Science concepts, many times teachers find that students are unable to give good scientific explanations. This may due to the students’ inability to visualise abstract concepts. Hence, our teachers have decided to provide opportunities for students to visualise the concepts to accompany their explanations.

Teachers explored the use of visual and text as representations for students to explain a phenomenon. These representations, when posted onto a blog, allow for ideas to be accessed by other students. This leads to the questioning, clarification and refinement of ideas. Coupled with teacher modelling, students show coherence in their scientific explanations as they link their representations with related scientific concepts and conventions.

Literature Review

Students need to be introduced to multiple modes of representations of science concepts and be able to understand, translate and connect these representations as part of learning the nature of scientific knowledge, inquiry, and reporting (Tyler and Peterson, 2006). Russell and McGuigan (2001) stated that learners needed opportunities to generate a variety of representations of a concept, and to recode these representations in different modes, as they refine and make their understandings more explicit . Students who are taught the skills in illustrating representations are able to use these representations to better explain science concepts as opposed to only using text, hence enhancing their understanding.

Research Question: How does constructing representations help students to explain Science concepts accurately?


Two groups of Primary 4 students were selected for this study. The experimental group consisted of 35 High Ability students and the control group was made of 39 High Ability students. Both classes were taught by experienced Science teachers.

The intervention consisted of a series of four lessons, designed using the Keming Inquiry Based Learning Approach (KIndLE) approach as shown in Figure 1.

Lesson Design using KIndLE

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Figure 1: Keming's KIndLE approach

The KIndLE approach consists of 5 stages. In the elaborate stage, I-ACT (Figure 2) shows the process of using visual and text representations as tools for students to communicate their thoughts and seek clarifications from their peers in an online learning environment. The process of seeking clarification begins with teacher modelling the rebuttal process and ends with students refining their explanations from comments provided by their peers.

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Figure 2: i-ACT

Students' Artefacts (Class Blog)

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Figure 3: An example of a i-ACT in action

In the third lesson, the experimental class was brought again to the storeroom to experience a different phenomenon - that a light source is needed to reflect an object to the receiver for him/her to see it. Again, the students were told to draw and write how they could see the object that the teacher was holding in the dark room on the worksheet. The representations and explanations were uploaded on the class blog.

In the fourth lesson, the science teacher from the experimental group recapped the importance of labelling when doing representations and the need to draw straight arrows to show that light travels in a straight line. She also mentioned the importance about having the three components in the light experiment such that there must be a receiver, light source and light travelling to the receiver’s light.

A test was conducted for both groups after the intervention to find out its effectiveness. Test items required students to represent their ideas both in visual and text representations in order to explain the given phenomenon. They were marked for coherence of representation with explanation.


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Results Analysis

A post test that was administered.

Question 1: Draw and explain the reason why you choose - mirror as non-source of light or star/lighted candle/firefly as a source of light.

Students' Artefacts for Post Question 1

The Experimental Group artefact shows that there is coherence in their visual and textual representations but not in the Control Group which affirms that representations do help students to understand and explain Science concepts better.

Question 3: Draw and explain how Ahmad must hold the torchlight to see the mosquito bite on his chin.
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Students' Artefacts for Post-test Question 2

None of the students from the Control group was able to draw the correct representation and explain the concept of reflection compared to 88.6% students from the Experimental Group who were able to draw the representation and explain the concept well.

This data also showed that with representations, students are able to visualise their thinking and thus able to remember and explain the concepts better when the question gets more complex.

From the students’ artefacts above, the teaching of using representations has helped the Experimental group to enhance their understanding through visual representations and at the same time, communicate with their peers. The table above also shows that students are better able to explain the Science concepts to show their understanding of the given phenomenon in the question.

Learning and Insights

Content and Pedagogy

· To know the content and syllabus well before going deeper into lesson design.

· It is important to identify the correct topic for representations as not all topics used representations to explain a Science concept

· Moving forward, the department will be exploring the topic of Magnets for the P3 and Water Cycle for the P5 next year.

ICT skills

· There is a need to prepare both the teacher and students to be familiar with the class blog interface and how to post a comment.


  • •Vaughan Prain & Bruce Waldrip (2006): An Exploratory Study of

    Teachers’ and Students’ Use of Multi‐modal Representations of

    Concepts in Primary Science, International Journal of Science

    Education, 28:15, 1843-1866Multiple Representation_Prain_2009

    •Vaughan Prain , Russell Tytler & Suzanne Peterson (2009): Multiple

    Representation in Learning About Evaporation, International Journal of

    Science Education, 31:6, 787-808

    •Russell Tytler (2006): Picturing Evaporation: Learning Science

    Literacy through a particle representation

    •Jim Carolan; Vaughan Prain; Bruce Waldrip: Using representations

    for teaching and learning in Science, Teaching Science; Mar 2008;

    54, 1; Research Library

    •Russell Tytler, Vaughan Prain & Suzanne Peterson (2007):

    Representational Issues in Students Learning About Evaporation