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ERIC Number: EJ883487
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2010-Jun
Pages: 17
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 31
ISSN: ISSN-0013-1881
Designing for Real-World Scientific Inquiry in Virtual Environments
Ketelhut, Diane Jass; Nelson, Brian C.
Educational Research, v52 n2 p151-167 Jun 2010
Background: Most policy doctrines promote the use of scientific inquiry in the K-12 classroom, but good inquiry is hard to implement, particularly for schools with fiscal and safety constraints and for teachers struggling with understanding how to do so. Purpose: In this paper, we present the design of a multi-user virtual environment (MUVE) science curriculum project focusing on the creation of virtual experimentation methods and tools that concentrate on real-world inquiry. The study investigated whether students could engage with and learn as much from virtual inquiry as physical inquiry. Furthermore, the impact on teachers was explored. Programme description: These research questions were evaluated through an implementation of the MUVE, "River City", a curriculum that is based on hypothesis formation and testing. Sample: We present findings from an implementation of "River City" with 500 seventh-grade students and their five teachers in a US mid-Atlantic suburban school district. Students were evenly split by gender and only a few were classified as low socio-economic status. Design and methods: Each teacher's classes were randomly assigned to physical or virtual experimentation interventions. Quantitative analysis using multi-level modelling was conducted on affective and content pre/post surveys, comparing results across treatments. Student and teacher comments were also investigated for their insight into the research questions. Results: Girls using virtual experimentation learn more than any other subgroup; however, boys in the physical experimentation group outperform their counterparts in the virtual group. All students were engaged by the virtual experimentation as indicated by survey and teacher reports. Teachers on average indicated a high level of satisfaction with their students' learning but indicated concern over the length of time needed. Conclusions: Initial evidence indicates that virtual experimentation can engage students and help them learn as well as or better than physical experimentation. (Contains 2 tables, 6 figures and 1 note.)
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education; Grade 7; Middle Schools
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Assessments and Surveys: Patterns of Adaptive Learning Survey; Test of Science Related Attitudes