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Effects of a Prior Virtual Experience on Students’ Interpretations of Real Data Documents

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Effects of a Prior Virtual Experience on Students’ Interpretations of Real Data 

written by Jacquelyn J. Chini, Adrian Carmichael, Elizabeth Gire, N. Sanjay Rebello, and Sadhana Puntambekar

Our previous work has shown that experimentation with virtual manipulatives supports students' conceptual learning about simple machines differently than experimentation with physical manipulatives [1]. This difference could be due to the "messiness" of physical data from factors such as dissipative effects and measurement uncertainty. In this study, we ask whether the prior experience of performing a virtual experiment affects how students interpret the data from a physical experiment. Students enrolled in a conceptual-based physics laboratory used a hypertext system to explore the science concepts related to simple machines and performed physical and virtual experiments to learn about pulleys and inclined planes. Approximately half of the students performed the physical experiments before the virtual experiments and the other half completed the virtual experiments first. We find that using virtual manipulatives before physical manipulatives may promote an interpretation of physical data that is more productive for conceptual learning.

Published August 24, 2010
Last Modified October 8, 2010

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