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Next Generation Science Standards Visual Literacy: Cognitive Load Theory Based Approach for Middle-Level Students

Huhn, Colter Jerald
This study investigates the use of Cognitive Load Theory (CLT) and some strategies derived from it, to aid middle-level students in their sensemaking of visual literacy within science concepts associated with the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). Specifically, the study finds what impact do CLT-based instructional practices have on middle-level students’ scientific models, what types of CLT-based scaffolding do students say is effective in supporting their learning with and about scientific models, and in what ways do students perceive this scaffolding to be helpful? Students were given a multi-modal visual assessment before and after an instructional unit taught using six CLT-based scaffolds and instructional techniques. In addition, the post-assessment had a Likert-scale based survey on the helpfulness of each strategy, and eight participants of 28 were chosen for interviews about why some strategies were helpful in their learning. My analysis showed strong growth in student modeling abilities after the CLT-based unit. The survey results deemed all the strategies to overall be “helpful” or “very helpful”, and the interviews led to students explaining, in general, that the strategies helped to simplify the complex modeling task and provide a better frame of reference for them to understand the ideas of the content. Some limitations found were the sample size and variation of this study is limited, and implementation of these strategies should involve planning differentiation for students who may need to have less scaffolding. I conclude using these CLT-based strategies can assist middle-level science teachers in the instruction of visual literacy, modeling and sensemaking of science content in this new science standard landscape.
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University of Wyoming. Libraries
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Next Generation Science Standards,Cognitive Load Theory,visual literacy,sense-making,middle-level science,modeling
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