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Simulation-based learning activities in a hypermedia curriculum supplement for high school biology: A case study at NASA's Classroom of the Future

, Florida Institute of Technology, United States

Florida Institute of Technology . Awarded


The objective of this qualitative study was to examine the evolution of domain-specific knowledge constructs (DSKCs) and problem-solving methods of high school students engaged in simulation-based learning activities. Videotapes, interviews, and written artifacts were collected from one 9th- and one 11th-grade biology class in an all-girl, private high school.

Findings revealed that students employed a variety of problem-solving methods in the simulation-based learning activity including estimation (51% of the episodes), analogy (33%), means-end (7%), and extreme-me (5%). The remaining 4% involved intergroup collaboration, default solutions, or unidentifiable methods.

Students' problem-solving methods changed with continued simulation interaction. Students tended to employ more rigorous, quantitative problem-solving methods such as means-end and analogy in the initial phases of the activity, but shifted to less rigorous, qualitative, higher-lower, estimation in the latter stages.

The data inferred students working with the simulation learned new DSKCs and improved existing deficient DSKCs. DSKC improvement was enhanced when unequivocal feedback exposed students' deficient DSKCs early in, the activity so the remaining activity provided opportunity to improve deficient DSKCs.

Findings imply that in a simulation-based learning activity, teachers and simulation designers should generally (1) Provide students instruction in scientific problem-solving methods appropriate for simulations. (2) Encourage students to engage in structured problem-solving activities that require cognitive effort and offer learning opportunity. (3) Incorporate simulation features that guide students in their scientific problem-solving efforts.

Information and findings in this report should be useful to school technology leaders, teachers, and educational simulation designers.


Cain, J.H. Simulation-based learning activities in a hypermedia curriculum supplement for high school biology: A case study at NASA's Classroom of the Future. Ph.D. thesis, Florida Institute of Technology. Retrieved February 17, 2019 from .

This record was imported from ProQuest on October 23, 2013. [Original Record]

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