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Computer Simulation And A Realistic Simulator In Conjunction With The New Educational Style How People Learn (Hpl) To Improve Learning Achievements

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2005 Annual Conference


Portland, Oregon

Publication Date

June 12, 2005

Start Date

June 12, 2005

End Date

June 15, 2005



Conference Session

BME Technical Modules and Laboratories

Page Count


Page Numbers

10.332.1 - 10.332.6

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Paper Authors

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Tilo Winkler

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Rudolph Mitchel

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Jose Venegas

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Computer Simulation and a Realistic Simulator in Conjunction with the New Educational Style How People Learn (HPL) to Improve Learning Achievements

Tilo Winkler, Ph.D., Rudolph Mitchell, Ed.D., and Jose G. Venegas, Ph.D.

Harvard Medical School / Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences & Technology (HST) / Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)


Traditional lectures are well suited to teaching of systematic content but lack active hands-on experience. The NSF publication “How People Learn” (HPL) suggests that challenging students with realistic problems and high levels of freedom for problem solving motivates students and supports learning. In the case of lung physiology, medical, as well as biomedical, students are expected to understand respiratory mechanics and gas exchange. Learners find this material difficult because of the basic abstract non-intuitive concepts that govern relationships between respiratory pressures, flows and volumes and gas exchange in spontaneous and mechanical ventilation. In addition, they often fail to see the clinical relevance of such concepts when they are presented in lecture.

New learning technologies such as computer simulations and realistic simulators can help students to overcome some of the difficulties they confront in learning respiratory mechanics and gas exchange. With a computer simulation running in real-time, students can elaborate on lecture content by exploring in a cognitively active manner mechanisms and complex interactions within the respiratory system. Although a realistic simulator (computer-controller mannequin) presents clinically measurable parameters with less mechanistic detail, it exposes students to broader physiological interactions between physiological systems and immerses them in a motivating and challenging realistic environment. Including these new technologies into courses that pose conceptual challenges comparable in complexity to that of respiratory physiology may enhance student learning.

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has been funding a major educational program that involves Vanderbilt University, Northwestern University, University of Texas, and the Harvard- MIT Division of Health Sciences & Technology (VaNTH) [1] to develop new educational styles and to introduce them in teaching bioengineering to undergraduate and graduate students. The main thrust of the project is based on concepts presented by the NSF publication How People Learn (HPL) [2]. The concept is to challenge the students with a set of realistic problems and give them a high level of freedom on the methods chosen by them for solving them.

Proceedings of the 2005 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2005, American Society for Engineering Education

Winkler, T., & Mitchel, R., & Venegas, J. (2005, June), Computer Simulation And A Realistic Simulator In Conjunction With The New Educational Style How People Learn (Hpl) To Improve Learning Achievements Paper presented at 2005 Annual Conference, Portland, Oregon.

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