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In this chapter, I propose three distinct purposes of multiple representations and suggest that these lead to different design principles and learning activities. Multiple representations can play a complementary role when learners exploit differences in their form and content by switching between and selecting the appropriate representation for the task at hand. Constraining benefits are achieved when learners can profit from the support of a familiar representation to understand a new and complex representation. Finally, if learners abstract across multiple representations, they can construct a deeper understanding of the nature of the representations and the domain they represent. This chapter updates a review of studies that have used multiple representations for these purposes and identifies some of the circumstances that influence the effectiveness of using multiple representations in these ways.
This chapter reviews the guided discovery principle, according to which guidance should be given to students to ensure effective learning during scientific discovery in multimedia environments. At the heart of these environments often lies a computer simulation that students can use to discover scientific principles through experimentation. The chapter demonstrates the need for and effectiveness of particular types of guidance: process constraints, performance dashboard, prompts, heuristics, scaffolds, and direct presentation of information. Recent research findings that serve to exemplify this typology are discussed. This typology serves as an important first step toward the development of a cognitive theory of adaptive guidance that can determine the appropriate differentiation of instructional support based on the knowledge and skills of individual students. The design of future studies should build on the strengths of current research and avoid some of its weaknesses.