Exploring the use of a writing-to-learn activity embedded with multiple modes using ‘Popplet’ on pre-university students’ alternative conceptions on transition metals
A study of transition metals includes studying the physical and chemical properties of first-row d block metals in the Periodic Table. The curriculum on transition metals emphasizes learning the physical and chemical properties and is a lecture-based strategy that is predominately employed by teachers to transfer the knowledge on properties of the metals. As the teacher-centred strategy is unable to promote conceptual change, students frequently retain incorrect alternative conceptions about the metals. Literature indicates that multiple modes of representation embedded within the writing to learn activity facilitated learning and improved understanding of several scientific concepts. Literature also indicates that using a digital platform to create the writing encourages embedding of multiple modes. Modes such as diagrams, chemical equations, graphs, chemical formulae, and tables are often employed to illustrate the properties of transition metals. Hence, in this study, an attempt was made to encourage embedding modes commonly associated with transition metals into a writing-to-learn activity using the ‘Popplet’ application communicating the information on the properties of metals to their peers. The study explored the effect of embedding multiple modes of representation within a writing-to-learn activity using ‘Popplet’ in reducing the alternative conceptions on transition metals. For this purpose, 81 pre-university students responded to a diagnostic test administered as a pre-test before the writing-to-learn activity and post-test after the activity. From the pre-test, the alternative conceptions held by the students were identified. The post-test results showed a smaller number of students with the alternative conceptions identified in the pre-test. The paired sample t-test shows that the difference between the pre and post-test means is significant. The qualitative interview responses provided insights into how embedding the modes within the writing activity using ‘Popplet’ reduces the alternative conceptions. The findings of the study inform the teachers of an alternative student-centred approach to teaching the lessons on transition metals. This study introduces multiple modes of representation embedded within a writing-to-learn activity using ‘Popplet’ as an approach that promotes conceptual change.