Employing inquiry-based computer simulations and embedded scientist videos to teach challenging climate change and nature of science concepts
Edward Charles Cohen, Rutgers The State University of New Jersey - New Brunswick, United States
Rutgers The State University of New Jersey - New Brunswick . Awarded
Design based research was utilized to investigate how students use a greenhouse effect simulation in order to derive best learning practices. During this process, students recognized the authentic scientific process involving computer simulations. The simulation used is embedded within an inquiry-based technology-mediated science curriculum known as Web-based Inquiry Science Environment (WISE). For this research, students from a suburban, diverse, middle school setting use the simulations as part of a two week-long class unit on climate change. A pilot study was conducted during phase one of the research that informed phase two, which encompasses the dissertation. During the pilot study, as students worked through the simulation, evidence of shifts in student motivation, understanding of science content, and ideas about the nature of science became present using a combination of student interviews, focus groups, and students' conversations. Outcomes of the pilot study included improvements to the pedagogical approach. Allowing students to do “Extreme Testing” (e.g., making the world as hot or cold as possible) and increasing the time for free exploration of the simulation are improvements made as a result of the findings of the pilot study.
In the dissertation (phase two of the research design) these findings were implemented in a new curriculum scaled for 85 new students from the same school during the next school year. The modifications included new components implementing simulations as an assessment tool for all students and embedded modeling tools. All students were asked to build pre and post models, however due to technological constraints these were not an effective tool. A non-video group of 44 students was established and another group of 41 video students had a WISE curriculum which included twelve minutes of scientists' conversational videos referencing explicit aspects on the nature of science, specifically the use of models and simulations in science. The students in the video group had marked improvement compared to the non-video group on questions regarding modeling as a tool for representing objects and processes of science modeling aspects as evident by multiple data sources. The findings from the dissertation have potential impacts on improving Nature of Science (NOS) concepts around modeling by efficiently embedding short authentic scientific videos that can be easily used by many educators. Compared to published assessments by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), due to the curriculum interventions both groups scored higher than the average United States middle school student on many NOS and climate content constructs.
Cohen, E.C. Employing inquiry-based computer simulations and embedded scientist videos to teach challenging climate change and nature of science concepts. Ph.D. thesis, Rutgers The State University of New Jersey - New Brunswick.
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