Visualisation in chemistry

Research basis for the VisChem project and the learning design

To read these publications go to:

The first paper describes:

  • how the three “thinking-level” model (Johnstone, 1982) acted as the seed for the VisChem project to assist students to construct useful mental models at the molecular level
  • research on the effectiveness of the VisChem animations, and the need to embed them within a ‘learning design’
  • the audiovisual information-processing model, based on work by Johnstone, Mayer, Paivio, and Sweller, that informs the development of the learning design
  • an demonstration of the VisChem learning design to develop a student’s molecular-level mental model

The second paper describes:

  • why visualisation at the molecular level is so important for learning chemistry
  • an overview of the key features in each animation
  • the specific misconceptions in the educational literature targeted by the VisChem animations , and some actually generated by these animations, unless care is taken
  • how the animations were designed to balance the often-competing demands of scientific accuracy, artistic license, and technical constraints
- Tasker, R., & Dalton, R. (2006). Research into Practice: Visualisation of the Molecular World Using Animations. Chemistry Education Research and Practice, 7(2), 141 – 159.
- Tasker, R. (2014). Research into Practice: Visualising the Molecular World for a Deep Understanding of Chemistry. Teaching Science 60:2, 16 – 27.

Visualisation in physics

Visualisation in biology

Visualisation in science education

Visualisation to integrate science understanding

The VISUAL project studies how visualizations can transform science instruction by addressing the following research questions:

  1. When and how do visualizations improve science learning outcomes?
  2. How can visualization-rich curriculum materials enable all students to learn complex science topics?
  3. What design practices and cyberlearning tools generalize to new curricula?
- Marcia Linn and her Technology Enhanced Learning in Science website
- A recent paper to start with is:Journal of Research in Science Teaching. 02/2014; 51(2). DOI: 10.1002/tea.21128

Cognitive science research on visualisation

A thoughtful paper on visualising thought

This paper and the references therein provide a cognitive perspective of visualization in all its forms to make sense of the world.

- Barbara Tversky Topics in Cognitive Science 3 (2011) 499–535

Integrating education and neuroscience – not as simple as it appears

- Michel Ferrari (2011) What Can Neuroscience Bring to Education?, Educational Philosophy and Theory, 43:1, 31-36, DOI: 10.1111/j.1469-5812.2010.00704.x

Warning about the application of cognitive science research to teaching and learning

The expectation that cognitive neuroscience research will have a direct and immediate impact on educational practice are shortsighted and unrealistic. Instead, infrastructure needs to be created, principally through interdisciplinary training, funding and research programs that allow for bidirectional collaborations between cognitive neuroscientists, educators and educational researchers to grow.

- Daniel Ansari , Donna Coch & Bert De Smedt (2011) Connecting Education and Cognitive Neuroscience: Where will the journey take us?, Educational Philosophy and Theory, 43:1, 37-42, DOI: 10.1111/j.1469-5812.2010.00705.x