Behaviour of an Educational Simulation Model Depending on the Initial Conditions of the Simulation

Behaviour of an Educational Simulation Model Depending on the Initial Conditions of the Simulation

Petr Michalík (Department of Computer Science and Educational Technology, University of West Bohemia, Pilsen, Czech Republic)
Copyright: © 2015 |Pages: 10
DOI: 10.4018/IJKSR.2015040106
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When using simulation experiments in classes, it sometimes happens that students, after creating a simulation model, execute the simulation in order to verify the behaviour and working principle of an electronic circuit, but find that the outputs are completely different from the theoretical assumptions. The problem hardly ever lies in the model being erroneously assembled, but is usually caused by the simulation being run with default initial conditions whose suitability has not been verified with regard to achieving the intended educational objective. The same situation is also experienced by teachers using simulations of electronic systems in their classes. The situation described above can negatively influence secondary-school students' attitude towards computer simulations and give the false impression that simulations do not work well. The aim of this article is not only to warn teachers and others interested in simulations of electronic circuits about such a situation, but also to demonstrate its possible solution with an illustrative example.
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1. Simulation Experiments In Classes

1.1. Simulation Models and Simulations

Nowadays, there is no doubt that simulation should be part of the educational process. After all, a computer simulation provides a new and unique method of investigation (Hartmann, 1996), which makes it possible to verify the behaviour of models of unreal situations or situations difficult to perform (Michalík, 2014). The computer simulation model must be created in such a way that it can be executed on a computer. To achieve this, special programming environments are used; in electronics, virtual computer electronic labs can be used. These laboratories comprise a great number of models of real discrete components that are used to build up a macro model of an entire circuit.

In its most general meaning, a simulation is understood as a process running on a computer (e.g., Hartmann, 1996). Therefore, the term ‘computer simulation’ has become a set expression. In the field of research and development, simulation plays a significant role, as it makes it possible to verify a circuit design before building up a prototype of an electronic system. This method makes it possible to effectively verify the behaviour of a circuit under various conditions and situations which are very difficult or complex to perform in a prototype circuit. While some concepts rigidly distinguish between the terms ‘modelling’ and ‘simulation’ (e.g., Křivý, Kindler, 2003), at present ‘simulation’ is often the only term used (e.g., Hubálovský, 2011), comprising the creation of a computer simulation model including the conceptual one. In the educational process, a simulation has the potential to develop the creativity of students and can also be applied in project teaching (Maňák, Švec, 2003). According to Hubálovský (2011), a simulation can be understood as the transformation of a conceptual model describing a real system into a simulation model.

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