Physics simulations and their influence on conceptual change in students

  • Author / Creator
    Marcellus, Kenneth
  • This research was designed to determine what conceptual changes occur when students use computer simulations, and whether simulations with characteristics defined as engaging by Adams et al. (2008a; 2008b), Granlund, Berglund, and Eriksson (2000), Kali and Linn (2008), Kim, Yoon, Whang, Tversky, and Morrison (2007), Lowe (2004), Malone (1981), and Wishart (1990), seem to promote conceptual change. Six grade-ten students worked with three projectile-motion simulations in various orders. Students drew pre- and post-treatment concept maps, their interactions with the simulations were videotaped, and they were interviewed. The results show that the students did experience conceptual change, but the changes were mostly within existing cognitive frameworks with few higher-order connections made. As well, the simulation that engaged the students the most promoted the least conceptual change, and vice versa. These findings support recommendations made in earlier literature that raise awareness of simulation features that tend to distract students from learning goals.

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  • Degree
    Master of Education
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    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.