TUE 11:30 AM Parallel Session: Pedagogy Research, Interactive Learning Environments

 Full Report: The session “Pedagogy Research, Interactive Learning Environments” was chaired by James Lyneis and included three papers on the use of system dynamics for learning.

The first paper, by Mert Nuhoglu and Hasret Nuhoglu, was entitled The Effects of System Dynamics Approach in Science Education in Middle School. The paper analyzed students’ performance in Turkish middle school science and technology courses. It was based on an experiment that involved both a system dynamics and a standard syllabus approach. The effectiveness of the two approaches was measured in five areas: science and technology course attitude, scientific success, cause-effect relationships, graphing and analyzing skills, and problem solving skills. The experimental results were mixed, with system dynamics leading to improvements in only some areas (scientific success, perceived problem solving skills, ability to understand graphics, ability to understand causal relationships). Other areas such as perceived understanding of causal relationships, perceived ability to draw and read graphs, and perceived interest in the science and technology course seemed to be unaffected by the system dynamics approach.

The second paper, by Agata Sawicka and Birgit Kopainsky, entitled Simulation-Enhanced Descriptions of Dynamic Problems: Initial Experimental Results analyzed how learning about and performance in complex dynamic systems could be improved by enhancing problem descriptions with interactive simulation elements. The paper replicated experiments by Erling Moxnes on the management of reindeer lichen winter pastures and extended the task instructions with an interactive applet allowing for the exploration of the dynamics of the non-linear growth rate of lichen. In contrast to previous observations when the subjects misperceived gravely the system’s dynamics at the outset, the results suggest that with the interactive applet the misperceptions of dynamics can be reduced already in the first trial.

The third paper, by Diana Fisher, was entitled Building Slightly More Complex Models: Calculators vs. STELLA. It analyzed whether the modeling tool makes a difference in United States pre-college algebra students’ performance of growth relationships tasks. The paper is based on a simple growth task that students had to solve either using a graphing calculator or STELLA. The experiment indicates that there is a significant difference in the ability of students to correctly build and analyze a problem that is a slight extension of what they have learned in class when using either the calculator or the STELLA software. These findings emphasize the importance of access to system dynamics simulation software and computer labs for providing the experiences students need to enhance their analytical skills with complex systems.

Birgit Kopainsky


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