Supporting conceptual understandings outdoors: Findings from the tree investigators mobile project

Heather Toomey Zimmerman, Susan M. Land, Brian J. Seely, Michael R. Mohney, Gi Woong Choi, Lucy R. McClain

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


This design-based research project examines two iterations of Tree Investigators, which supports science learning with mobile devices in an arboretum. Researchers coded videorecords of children and parents (n=40 people) to understand how digital augmentations influenced observation and understandings about trees. In Iteration 1, learners focused on tree identification; Iteration 2, learners focused on tree life cycles. We focus here on Iteration 2, where children completed a pre-and post-test assessment and participated in a photographic collage task to document a tree's life cycle. Findings suggested that a touch-screen conceptual organizer that provided a model of the life cycle, along with text and contrastive images, supported people's observations. The learners also collected photographic evidence of life cycle stages in a knowledge generative task. Increases in factual and conceptual knowledge of the life cycle were observed pre-and post-test; however, learners did not show consistent appropriation of new scientific vocabulary.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1067-1071
Number of pages5
JournalProceedings of International Conference of the Learning Sciences, ICLS
Issue numberJanuary
StatePublished - 2014
Event11th International Conference of the Learning Sciences: Learning and Becoming in Practice, ICLS 2014 - Boulder, United States
Duration: Jun 23 2014Jun 27 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Computer Science (miscellaneous)
  • Education


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