Thinking with your Hands: Interactive Graphical Representations in a Tutor for Fractions Learning


Laurens Feenstra, Vincent Aleven, Nikol Rummel, Martina Rau and Niels Taatgen

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Learning with multiple graphical representations is effective in many instructional activities, including fractions. However, students need to be supported in understanding the individual representations and in how the representations relate to one another. We investigated (1) whether interactive manipulations of graphical representation support a deeper understanding of the representations compared to static graphics and (2) whether connection-making activities help students better understand the relations between representations. In a study with 312 4th and 5th grade students we found that interactive representations were indeed more effective in improving student fraction learning compared to static fraction graphics, especially for students yet unfamiliar with the topics being taught. We found no effect for connection-making activities. The results suggest that domains with (multiple) representations are best taught with tutor-guided student manipulation of these graphics rather than with static pictures.


Interactive representations, connection making activities, virtual manipulatives, situational feedback