Supporting Discovery-Based Learning within Simulations

Supporting Discovery-Based Learning within Simulations

Lloyd P. Rieber (The University of Georgia, USA)
Copyright: © 2009 |Pages: 20
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-158-2.ch012
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This chapter presents a review of research on the use and role of interactive simulations for learning. Contemporary theories of learning, instruction, and media, suggest that learning involves a complex relationship and dependency between a learner’s prior knowledge, a learner’s motivation, the context, the task, and the resources (e.g., simulations) provided to, and used by the learner to support or enable the task. Given this perspective, and data from an evolving research program, simulations are best used to help learners construct knowledge and make meaning by giving them control over phenomena modeled by the simulation. Several theoretical frameworks have guided this research program: dual coding theory, mental models, and constructivist learning theory. An overall result of this research is that learning should be based on experience, such as that derived from interacting with a simulation, and supported with explanations. This is counter to traditional educational wisdom where explanations rule instructional strategies.
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Since the late 1980s, I have studied children and adults using educational simulations based on various pedagogical (e.g. inductive and deductive learning) and philosophical approaches (i.e. constructivist and objectivist). My goal in this chapter is to summarize some of this research and also provide some of the background that frames my research questions. As an instructional technologist, I have been influenced by the use of instruction to shape learning, but as someone who accepts a constructivist orientation to learning, I know that instruction is but one path to learning. When given little or no instructional support, I am interested in the strategies that people use to learn given the opportunities of an interactive simulation. Even more important, I am interested in those times when they run into problems and need help. My goal is not to withhold instruction from them, but to gain a better understanding of when instructional support is unnecessary or, conversely, most needed.

The general conclusions I have drawn from this research and experience are not neat and tidy. I am unable to say that simulations are “better” than other learning approaches. One of the most important conclusions is simply that learning with simulations is heavily context-bound (Kluge, 2007). The influence or role of a simulation on learning is interrelated to the other elements of the instructional system. This is a useful reminder that human cognition and motivation are among the most complex phenomenon we can study. As a researcher, this generates curiosity in me leading to more research. Yet, as an educator, I admit that I grow restless at times when design principles prove elusive.

This chapter is presented in three sections. First, I discuss important background on visualization principles needed in the design of highly visual educational simulations. This background section in presented in two parts: 1) a brief overview of visualization in education; and 2) theories relevant to the simulation research considered afterwards. The two theories I emphasize are dual coding theory, a well-established and studied theory that offers much guidance in deciding when and how to design visualization for educational materials, and mental models, a theory that attempts to model and explain human understanding of complex phenomena. In the second section, I present the main thrust of the chapter by considering what is meant by interactive multimedia, basing most of my discussion on the use of simulations. However, I also consider how attributes of microworlds and gaming can influence simulation design. I then turn attention to some recommendations and implications for design. I use the relatively new literature on universal design for learning (UDL) as an additional lens for understanding the implications. Although UDL focuses on people with disabilities, one might argue that we all have challenges to learning depending on the context we find ourselves in, the materials and resources given to us, and expectations placed on us. The label “disability” is often attached to people facing such challenges in arbitrary and unfortunate ways. Finally, I offer some conclusions and consider future research directions.

Complete Chapter List

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Table of Contents
Robert Zheng
Chapter 1
Renae Low
Our knowledge of human cognitive architecture has advanced dramatically in the last few decades. In turn, that knowledge has implications for... Sample PDF
Cognitive Architecture and Instructional Design in a Multimedia Context
Chapter 2
Peter E. Doolittle
This chapter addresses the role that working memory capacity (WMC) plays in learning in multimedia environments. WMC represents the ability to... Sample PDF
Multimedia Learning and Working Memory Capacity
Chapter 3
Anne E. Cook
This chapter focuses on issues dealing with the definition and measurement of cognitive load in multimedia and other complex learning activities.... Sample PDF
Measurement of Cognitive Load During Multimedia Learning Activities
Chapter 4
Stephen K. Reed
This chapter discusses a theoretical framework for designing multimedia in which manipulation, rather than perception, of objects plays the... Sample PDF
Manipulating Multimedia Materials
Chapter 5
Katharina Scheiter, Eric Wiebe, Jana Holsanova
Multimedia environments consist of verbal and visual representations that, if appropriately processed, allow for the construction of an integrated... Sample PDF
Theoretical and Instructional Aspects of Learning with Visualizations
Chapter 6
Florian Schmidt-Weigand
This chapter introduces eye tracking as a method to observe how the split of visual attention is managed in multimedia learning. The chapter reviews... Sample PDF
The Influence of Visual and Temporal Dynamics on Split Attention: Evidences from Eye Tracking
Chapter 7
Tad T. Brunyé, Tali Ditman, Jason S. Augustyn
Multiformat and modality interfaces have become popular and effective tools for presenting information in training and instructional systems.... Sample PDF
Spatial and Nonspatial Integration in Learning and Training with Multimedia Systems
Chapter 8
Mike DeSchryver
We claim that the Web has the potential to be a quintessential multimedia environment for complex learning, particularly in ill-structured domains.... Sample PDF
New Forms of Deep Learning on the Web: Meeting the Challenge of Cognitive Load in Conditions of Unfettered Exploration in Online Multimedia Environments
Chapter 9
Renae Low
In the field of multimedia learning, although research on cognitive effects and their implications for instructional design is rich, research on the... Sample PDF
Motivation and Multimedia Learning
Chapter 10
Min Liu, Paul Toprac, Timothy T. Yuen
The purpose of this study is to investigate students’ engagement with a multimedia enhanced problem-based learning (PBL) environment, Alien Rescue... Sample PDF
What Factors Make a Multimedia Learning Environment Engaging: A Case Study
Chapter 11
Michael J. Hannafin, Richard E. West, Craig E. Shepherd
This chapter examines the cognitive demands of student-centered learning from, and with, Web-based multimedia. In contrast to externally-structured... Sample PDF
The Cognitive Demands of Student-Centered, Web-Based Multimedia: Current and Emerging Perspectives
Chapter 12
Lloyd P. Rieber
This chapter presents a review of research on the use and role of interactive simulations for learning. Contemporary theories of learning... Sample PDF
Supporting Discovery-Based Learning within Simulations
Chapter 13
Gina J. Mariano
The role and promotion of transfer in multimedia instructional environments is an oft-neglected concept in instructional multimedia research.... Sample PDF
Fostering Transfer in Multimedia Instructional Environments
Chapter 14
Kirsten R. Butcher, Sebastian de la Chica, Faisal Ahmad, Qianyi Gu, Tamara Sumner, James H. Martin
This chapter discusses an emerging theme in supporting effective multimedia learning: developing scalable, cognitively-grounded tools that customize... Sample PDF
Conceptual Customization for Learning with Multimedia: Developing Individual Instructional Experiences to Support Science Understanding
Chapter 15
Mingming Zhou
We suggest that multimedia environments can benefit from learning as well as offer significant capacity to serve as research purposes. Because... Sample PDF
Designing Multimedia to Trace Goal Setting in Studying
Chapter 16
Alan D. Koenig, Robert K. Atkinson
The first part of this chapter explores how narrative can be used as a cognitive aid in educational video games. It discusses how narrative is... Sample PDF
Using Narrative and Game-Schema Acquisition Techniques to Support Learning from Educational Games
Chapter 17
Marian J.A.J. Verhallen
Advanced digital storybooks offer, in addition to an oral rendition of text, the possibility of enhancing story content through the use of video. In... Sample PDF
How Literacy Emerges from Living Books in the Digital Era: New Chances for Young Linguistically Disadvantaged Children
Chapter 18
Wolff-Michael Roth
To learn by means of analogies, students have to see surface and deep structures in both source and target domains. Educators generally assume that... Sample PDF
Emergence of Analogies in Collaboratively Conducted Computer Simulations
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