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ERIC Number: EJ1166990
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2014-Oct
Pages: 11
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: EISSN-1756-1108
How Guidance Affects Student Engagement with an Interactive Simulation
Chamberlain, Julia M.; Lancaster, Kelly; Parson, Robert; Perkins, Katherine K.
Chemistry Education Research and Practice, v15 n4 p628-638 Oct 2014
We studied how students engaged with an interactive simulation in a classroom setting and how that engagement was affected by the design of a guiding activity. Students (n = 210) completed a written activity using an interactive simulation in second semester undergraduate general chemistry recitations. The same simulation--PhET Interactive Simulations' "Acid-Base Solutions"--was used with three written activities, designated as Heavy Guidance (HG), Moderate Guidance (MG), or Light Guidance (LG). We collected mouse click data and classroom field notes to assess student engagement with each type of activity. Simulation features were characterized as "prompted" or "exploratory" based on the presence or absence of explicit guidance in the written activity to use that feature. While students in every condition were engaged with the simulation and their activity, student interaction with "exploratory" features decreased significantly when more guidance was provided (LG = 85%, MG = 68%, HG = 9%, p < 0.0005). Lighter guidance groups explored more and attended to their simulation interactions, indicated by a redraw task in the week after use. These results indicate that activity design--in terms of guidance level--can strongly influence student exploration with an interactive simulation. We discuss the implications of these results for the design of activities to accompany simulations, including how to increase student practice in scientific inquiry.
Royal Society of Chemistry. Thomas Graham House, Science Park, Milton Road, Cambridge, CB4 0WF, UK. Tel: +44-1223 420066; Fax: +44-1223 423623; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: National Science Foundation (NSF)
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: 1226321; 0817582