Proposal Title

Using Visual Analogies for Increasing Application of Mathematical Knowledge in STEM Disciplines

Co-Authors

Jing Sun, Georgia Southern University

Track

Research Proposal / Teaching with Technology

Proposal Abstract

College students in various STEM disciplines often struggle with translating mathematical formulas to physical interpretation. Knowing a procedure to solve mathematical equations does not guarantee an understanding of the physical process represented by the equations. We address this problem in chemistry using animated visual analogies that simulate mathematical equations that represent a dynamic chemical process. The complexity of the chemical system is simplified by the analogy, and the animated visualization makes the mathematical equations more intuitive. In our presentation, we will discuss the process involved in creating visual analogies in chemistry - the best methodologies, roadblocks, results of our pilot studies, and assessment methods.

Proposal Description

In most STEM courses, such as in mathematics, chemistry, physics and computer science, students struggle to relate intuitively to mathematical equations. Knowing a procedure to solve equations does not guarantee an understanding of the physical process represented by the mathematics. Visual analogies can be effectively used to address the problem. Visual analogies bridge the unfamiliar information with what is familiar and are especially suited for understanding abstract concepts. For mathematical equations that represent dynamic processes, animations are the best suited in terms of presentation. In line with Teaching-With-Analogies model, we designed visual animations for mathematical chemistry concepts with the help of undergraduate students in Graphic Design. One such animation is the “flipping tiles” analogy to simulate the mathematics representing speeds of different chemical reactions. The animation is designed as a pre-lecture exercise where students will watch the animation and complete an exercise before class in order to be prepared for the more advanced relationships that will be established in the lecture. Preliminary data has been used to make the presentation of the animation effective. This SoTL research aims to assess learning gains made in the analogy group compared to a non-analogy group, especially, in relation to the ability to solve mathematical problems that test intuition and understanding rather than mere “plugging-and-chugging”. Retention of material will also be tested using post tests and final exams in both analogy and non-analogy groups. In the poster presentation, we aim to discuss design of the analogy and the methodology for creating assessments that enable distinguishing students who complete tasks with an intuitive understanding of mathematical concepts from those that complete without such understanding. The project will benefit educators to consider effective ways to combine visual analogies into teaching mathematical equations in order to enhance learning.

Session Format

Poster Session

Publication Type and Release Option

Presentation (Open Access)

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Mar 29th, 4:00 PM Mar 29th, 5:00 PM

Using Visual Analogies for Increasing Application of Mathematical Knowledge in STEM Disciplines

College students in various STEM disciplines often struggle with translating mathematical formulas to physical interpretation. Knowing a procedure to solve mathematical equations does not guarantee an understanding of the physical process represented by the equations. We address this problem in chemistry using animated visual analogies that simulate mathematical equations that represent a dynamic chemical process. The complexity of the chemical system is simplified by the analogy, and the animated visualization makes the mathematical equations more intuitive. In our presentation, we will discuss the process involved in creating visual analogies in chemistry - the best methodologies, roadblocks, results of our pilot studies, and assessment methods.