Science of Learning Research Centre

Seminar: Confused? Don’t worry! Re/constructing video data to explore the role of confusion in inquiry science

Date: Tuesday July 19

Time: 5pm-6pm (light refreshments from 4.30pm)

Venue: Theatre 227 Melbourne Graduate School of Education 234 Queensbury Street, Carlton, VIC 3053

Speaker: Professor Russell Tytler

Title: Confused? Don’t worry! Re/constructing video data to explore the role of confusion in inquiry science


Seminar Registration Seminar Flyer

Please contact Dee Al-Nawab by July 18th  Email:

Traditionally confusion is considered to be a negative experience in the classroom. However in the context of inquiry science, we argue that confusion can be central to reasoning and learning. This research involves the exploration of students’ reasoning in science through constructing representations across multiple modes. Over 6 lessons in distinct topics, year 7 students undertook a series of inquiry challenges involving collaborative reasoning through experimentation, modelling and drawing. The lessons were conducted in the Science of Learning Classroom facility with multi-tracked video and audio facilities that allowed capture and analysis of the talk and gesture of each student group.

We will discuss the process by which we reviewed and refined the video data as themes emerged around our general aim of exploring reasoning through representation construction. Confusion was one such theme that proved generative in understanding the inquiry process.

We analysed episodes of confusion where the students were unsure of how to proceed with the challenge, and identified a variety of resources students drew on, and pathways through which students engaged with the challenge, remained in a confused state or withdrew from the challenge. We present a model that identifies pathways by which confusion leads to productive outcomes. The construction of drawings or other representations of visual/ spatial aspects of phenomena played a central role in this. We argue that confusion is central to productive inquiry processes and explore in the paper the conditions under which confusion can lead to engagement and reasoning. This has implications for the design and implementation of inquiry based science learning.

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