Comparing Student Learning in Mechanics Using Simulations and Hands-on Activities Documents

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Comparing Student Learning in Mechanics Using Simulations and Hands-on Activities 

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

Often computer simulation environments present students with an idealized version of the real world which can affect students' conceptual understanding. In this study we investigate the effects of completing an experiment in mechanics using this ideal world as compared to an identical experiment in the real world. Students in three of five conceptual physics laboratory sections completed the physical experiment while the other two sections performed the virtual experiment. The experiments were part of a unit on simple machines from the CoMPASS curriculum which integrates hypertext-based concept maps in a design-based context. There was no statistically significant difference between the pre and post data of the students in the two groups. Students who performed the virtual experiment were able to answer questions dealing with work and potential energy more correctly, though neither group was able to offer sound reasoning to support their answers.

Published August 24, 2010
Last Modified January 7, 2011

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