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Constructing knowledge with digital technology : how high school science students can learn about unobservable phenomena using dynamic simulated analogies Trey, Svetlana

Abstract

Computer applications in the classroom are increasingly becoming effective tools for model-based teaching in science. A novel instructional computer simulation that incorporates a dynamic analogy to represent Le Chatelier’s Principle was designed for this study. The simulation provides an analogy to a chemical reaction, a scale, and links the analogy’s functionality to a chemical reaction. This connection where the analogy view is mapped to the components of a chemical reaction is hypothesized to be beneficial for visualization of students’ conceptual models of molecular interactions. Two study groups of 12th grade Chemistry students interacted with instructional computer simulation during the study. Both groups did the same simulation activities guided by a common set of guidance sheets. The difference between the two treatment conditions was that while one of the groups observed the analogical example in the analogy view window of the analogous simulation, the other group had to recall the analogical example. The analysis of the data suggested that analogies that are dynamic, interactive, and integrated in instructional computer simulation have a stronger effect on learning outcomes than analogies which are presented in the form of text and static pictures. The implication of the study is that educators may wish to consider model-based teaching via instructional computer simulations integrating an analogical view as a method to improve student learning.

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