Relating Research to Practice has identified a limited set of Hot Topics representing pressing issues facing the ISE field. Download synthesis papers or browse research briefs related to these topics.





All research briefs tagged to STEM Learning through Digital & Visual Media
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Lee, S.W-Y., Tsai, C-C., Wu, Y-T., Tsai, M-J., Liu, T-C., Hwang F-K., Chang, C-Y. (2011). Internet-based science learning: A review of journal publications. International Journal of Science Education, 33(14), 1893–1925.

The Internet now plays an important role in education. This paper reviews the current literature on Internet-based science learning environments, focusing in particular on the characteristics of learners that affect the extent of science learning. It offers a useful resource for ISE practitioners who provide online science learning.


DiGironimo, N. (2011). What is technology? Investigating student conceptions about the nature of technology. International Journal of Science Education, 33(10), 1337–1352.

A good understanding of the nature of technology arguably facilitates learners’ participation in a technology-rich, information-driven society. To support students’ engagement and assess their understanding, educators need a functional definition of technology. This paper offers a definition with a related framework for examining students’ understanding.


Lai, B., Slota, S. & Medin, D. (2012). "Our Princess Is in Another Castle. A Review of Trends in Serious Gaming for Education. Review of Educational Research, 82(296), 295-299.

Do video games have positive impacts on the academic K–12 curriculum? A literature review of more than 300 research articles finds minimal evidence that video games have any positive effects on mathematics and science achievement. From a situated-learning perspective, however, games may afford other benefits that measures on test scores do not record.


Jaakkola, T., Nurmi, S., & Veermans, K. (2011). A comparison of students’ conceptual understanding of electric circuits in simulation only and simulation-laboratory contexts. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 48(1), 71–93.

This article makes a case for providing multiple types of hands-on resources to support learner inquiry. More specifically, a computer simulation of an electric circuit complemented work with a real circuit to support learners’ conceptual development. When learners had the opportunity to use both simulated and real circuits, less structured guidance seemed to benefit the inquiry process.


White, T., & Pea, R. (2011). “Distributed by design: On the promises and pitfalls of collaborative learning with multiple representations.” Journal of the Learning Sciences, 20(3), 489–547. doi:10.1080/10508406.2010.542700.

This article provides firm evidence, for formal and informal educators alike, that shared learning can be powerful and meaningful, if carefully considered. Findings from a study conducted in a summer middle school mathematics class suggest that when students are able to ask legitimate, authentic questions and share understanding about a common problem, their learning becomes truly “distributed by design.”


Sandoval, W. A., & Reiser, B. J. (2004). Explanation-driven inquiry: Integrating conceptual and epistemic scaffolds for scientific inquiry. Science Education, 88(3), 345–372. doi:10.1002/sce.10130

The past 50 years have seen a change in how science is perceived, from an “unproblematic accumulation of facts that describe the world” to a much messier enterprise involving building and revising models and theories. In an effort to bring this new understanding to science teaching and learning, this foundational article presents a conceptual framework of how inquiry can be driven by cognitive tools that support disciplinary knowledge. The authors use rubrics to help students gain a deeper understanding of their work and of the inquiry process.


Steinke, J., Applegate, B., Lapinski, M., Ryan, L., & Long, M. “Gender differences in adolescents’ wishful identification with scientist characters on television.” Science Communication, 34(2), 163–199. doi:10.1177/1075547011410250

In an experimental study, gender differences were found in how middle schoolers identified with scientists on popular TV shows. Male students identified most strongly with male scientists whom they perceived as respected, while female students identified most strongly with female scientists whom they perceived as dominant. The study also analyzed students’ identification with scientists as an effect of the genre of the TV shows.