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An Investigation of Students’ Use of a Computational Science Simulation in an Online High School Physics Class

  • rosenberg, joshua m.
  • lawson, michael a.
Publication Date
Mar 07, 2019
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perceptions of the strengths and weaknesses of the simulation, and how students balanced explaining variability and being able to interpret their model of the class data set. Responses to embedded assessment questions indicated that a few developed more sophisticated conceptual understanding of the particle nature of matter and how it relates to diffusion, while others began the lesson sequence with an already-sophisticated understanding, and a few did not demonstrate changes in their understanding. Students reported that the simulation helped to make a complex idea more accessible and useful and that the data generated by the simulation made it easier to understand what the simulation was representing. When analyzing the class data set, some students focused on fitting the data, not considering the interpretability of the model as much, whereas other students balanced model fit with interpretability and usefulness. In all, findings suggest that the lesson sequence had educational value, but that modifications to the design of the simulation and lesson sequence and to the technologies used could enhance its impact. Implications and recommendations for future research focus on the potential for simulations to be used to engage students in a variety of scientific and engineering practices in online science classes.

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