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Issue 1, 2013
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Variation theory: A theory of learning and a useful theoretical framework for chemical education research

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Abstract

Instructors are constantly baffled by the fact that two students who are sitting in the same class, who have access to the same materials, can come to understand a particular chemistry concept differently. Variation theory offers a theoretical framework from which to explore possible variations in experience and the resulting differences in learning and understanding. According to variation theory, there are a limited number of features of a given phenomenon to which we can pay attention at any given time. Our experience of that phenomenon depends on the specific features to which we direct our attention. Two individuals who experience the same phenomenon may focus on different features and, thus, come to understand the phenomenon differently. The purpose of this article is to present variation theory as (1) a useful way for instructors to think about student learning and (2) a potentially powerful theoretical framework from which to conduct chemical education research.

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Article information


Submitted
24 Oct 2012
Accepted
26 Nov 2012
First published
11 Dec 2012

Chem. Educ. Res. Pract., 2013,14, 9-22
Article type
Perspective

Variation theory: A theory of learning and a useful theoretical framework for chemical education research

T. J. Bussey, M. Orgill and K. J. Crippen, Chem. Educ. Res. Pract., 2013, 14, 9
DOI: 10.1039/C2RP20145C

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