of Education and Learning Sciences
The Dynagrams Project, funded by NSF and an Apple Computer equipment grant from 1987-1990, was an intensive empirical investigation that I developed and directed of how dynamic diagramming environments could improve high school student learning, in geometrical optics content in physics. Studies of several pre-eminent high schools and their teaching of this content provided the evidence of problematic issues in student understanding. We used these insights to then ground the design of a construction kit of optical elements (such as light sources, lens, mirrors) that could then be used by students to construct optical situations and make predictions about how light would interact with matter in the formation of images.
We then studied the classroom uses of the Optics Dynagrams environment in small group collaborative learning, and investigated the specific conceptions of light, mirrors, lenses, and image formation that developed in this new context.
Reports of these studies are provided in:
Reiner, M., Pea, R. D., & Shulman, D. (1995). The impact of simulator-based instruction on the diagramming of the interaction of light and matter by introductory physics students. Journal of Science Education and Technology, 4 (3), 199-226.
Pea, R. D. (1993c). Learning scientific concepts through material and social activities: Conversational analysis meets conceptual change. Educational Psychologist, 28(3), 265-277.
Pea, R. D. (1992). Augmenting the discourse of learning with computer-based learning environments. In E. de Corte, M. Linn, & L. Verschaffel (Eds.), Computer-based learning environments and problem-solving (NATO Series, subseries F: Computer and System Sciences). New York: Springer-Verlag GmbH (pp. 313-343).
Pea, R.D., Sipusic, M., & Allen, S. (1991). Seeing the light on optics: Classroom-based research and development for conceptual change. In S. Strauss (Ed.), Development and Learning Environments: Seventh Annual Workshop on Human Development. Norwood, NJ: Ablex. (editor never submitted final manuscript to publisher; manuscript available here.)
Pea, R. D., Allen, S., Sipusic, M., Goldman, S., Reiner, M., and Jul, S. (1992, August). Designing classroom discourse resources for conceptual change in science. Final Report to the National Science Foundation, #MDR-88-55582. (26 minute videotape available on request).