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Challenges solving science tasks with text–picture combinations persist beyond secondary school
L. Magnus, K. Schütte, J. Schwanewedel

Challenges solving science tasks with text–picture combinations persist beyond secondary school

Journal of Research on Educational Effectiveness. https://doi.org/10.1080/19345747.2020.1750744

Combinations of text and different types of pictures are commonplace in biology as in science in general. The single representations (i.e., text, picture) constituting a text–picture combination may contain redundant or complementary information. The ability to identify and integrate information in different kinds of text–picture combinations is indispensable for engaging in science and is normatively expected to be acquired in school. In this experimental study, which was not preregistered in an independent institutional registry, N = 240 undergraduate students worked on 2 constructed-response biology tasks originating from authentic final exams to obtain the higher education entrance qualification. The material carried equivalent information between conditions but consisted of redundant or non-redundant text–picture combinations or only texts. Analysis of variance revealed negative effects of the depictive representations on students’ performance, but these effects only occurred in 1 of the 2 tasks: Students in the text-only group reached the highest mean score, those who worked with the non-redundant text–picture combinations the lowest mean score. Implications for science education are discussed.