June 14, 2015
June 14, 2015
June 17, 2015
26.796.1 - 26.796.13
Framework of Basic Interactions to Computer Simulations: Analysis of Student Developed Interactive Computer ToolsComputer simulations make learning meaningful through interactive and authentic opportunitiesto observe, explore, and recreate real objects, phenomena, and processes that would otherwise beimpossible to investigate due to complexity, size-constraints, time-consumption, and/or danger.Simulations are crucial for the analysis and understanding of physical properties and products,especially at small scales like the nanoscale. According to the National Center for Learning andTeaching in Nanoscale Science and Engineering (NCLT) and the National Science TeachersAssociations (NSTA), the use of computer simulations in nanotechnology is one of the “bigideas” of nanotechnology education. Based on the lack of literature describing the progression ofstudent developed simulations in an open-ended learning environment and informal practionerreports of students’ struggles with understanding the nature of a simulation, this studyinvestigates student teams’ “simulations”. This study is driven by the following researchquestion: What types of interactions, mathematical models, and simulations are seen in teams’design projects?A required First-Year Engineering (FYE) course at a Midwestern U.S. university utilizes open-ended problem solving and scaffolding through feedback to encourage student learning. InSpring 2013, students were given a design project that challenged teams to develop an interactivetool (using MATLAB) to present nanotechnology concepts and applications to their peersthrough one or more simulations. The teams iteratively developed their design projects throughnine milestones and with continuous feedback from instructors. The final submissions of 30teams were analyzed. The theoretical framework for this study was grounded theory and thestrategies of inquiry were open coding and axial coding . Coding categories were developedbased on the data and then slightly modified based on existing literature to establish moremeaningful language to describe different components of a simulation (i.e. glass vs. black boxmodel, types of variables – discrete vs. continuous).The resulting coding scheme consists of four progressive levels of interaction in a graphical-userinterface (GUI) building up to simulations: Level 1: Basic Level of Interaction (e.g. clicking topull up more information, selecting quiz answers), Level 2: Simple Input to Output through aBlack Box Equation (e.g. conversion calculator – input a size for a macro scale outputs the sizein nanometers), Level 3: Animation of a Simulation – user can only play simulation with defaultinput variables, and Level 4: Simulation – user can change input variables and interact withvisualizations that help communicate the concept (making it more of a glass box process). Theresults of this coding scheme applied to the 30 teams will be given in the full paper along withimplications for practice (e.g. curriculum development, scaffolding techniques, and assessmentmethods pertinent to teaching simulation building through open-ended problem solving learningenvironments).
Rodgers, K. J., & Diefes-Dux, H. A., & Kong, Y., & Madhavan, K. (2015, June), Framework for Evaluating Simulations: Analysis of a Student-Developed Interactive Computer Tool Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24133
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