ERIC Number: ED528952
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2011
Reference Count: 3
Improving Students' Problem Solving in a Virtual Chemistry Simulation through Metacognitive Messages
Beal, Carole R.; Stevens, Ronald H.
Society for Research on Educational Effectiveness
Recent assessments indicate that American students do not score well on tests of scientific problem solving, relative to students in other nations. IMMEX is a web-based virtual environment that provides students with opportunities to solve science problems by viewing information resources through a suite of menu options, developing a hypothesis and submitting the hypothesis for feedback. Students' patterns of search through the information sources are automatically classified by the IMMEX software using Hidden Markov Models, producing a quantitative measure of strategic efficiency. Prior work has found that many students do not use effective strategies in IMMEX and that they tend to retain poor strategies over time (Stevens, Beal & Sprang, 2009). That is, practice alone does not lead to better problem solving. The goal of the study was to learn if students' problem solving could be improved through the addition of metacognitive messages into the IMMEX simulation for chemistry. Prior work on the techniques used by effective human tutors indicates that they discuss how to approach a problem, how to monitor one's progress and how to manage information resources effectively while solving a problem. The study question was whether messages based on a model of effective human tutoring could be integrated into the simulation and improve students' strategic effectiveness. The study included Grade 9 students in chemistry classes who participated as part of their classroom work. The findings suggest that students can be assisted to adopt better problem solving strategies through relatively simple changes to a technology-based learning environment. The addition of messages designed to encourage students to think about their actions, set goals and monitor progress, engage in appropriate help-seeking and tolerate a certain amount of frustration during problem solving appeared to be beneficial, especially for students who were not doing particularly well in the activity.
Descriptors: Feedback (Response), Chemistry, Problem Solving, Educational Technology, Virtual Classrooms, Grade 9, Science Instruction, Computer Simulation, Metacognition, Instructional Design, Web Based Instruction, Computer Software, Tutoring, Instructional Effectiveness, Educational Strategies, Markov Processes
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Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education; Grade 9; Secondary Education
Authoring Institution: Society for Research on Educational Effectiveness (SREE)
Identifiers - Location: California