Masters Thesis

A comparative study on inquiry activities with and without a computer simulation

This study compared inquiry-based learning with high school students with and without computer simulation. The treatment group completed a guided-inquiry activity using the PhET Build an Atom simulation (n = 29), whereas the control group completed a Process Oriented Guided Inquiry Learning (POGIL) activity on the atomic structure (n = 30). Both groups learned about the same main topics and completed a Post-Inquiry Assessment and Post-Inquiry Reflection after their inquiry activities. The mean of the Post-Inquiry Assessment for the two groups did not differ significantly. Qualitative data from the Post-Inquiry Reflections revealed the majority of participants in both groups perceived the inquiry activity as beneficial to their learning. The reflections also revealed that both groups were able to learn abstract concepts and a few participants felt like they needed more practice. A few participants in the control group demonstrated an ability to use similar information in different contexts, since the participants mentioned how they were able to make connections between using information in the periodic table and writing an isotope symbol. Some participants in the treatment group perceived the game component of the computer simulation to have benefited their learning. Overall, this examination of inquiry learning with and without a computer simulation revealed that in the context of a high school chemistry lesson on atomic structure, both types of activities have learning benefits.

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