This research investigated the effects of selected characteristics of a web-aided instructional simulation on students' conceptual change, problem solving and transfer. A two-pronged research study was conducted using 117 students enrolled in a beginning meteorology course at Iowa State University. For the experimental design, the performances of three groups (the with-log group, the without-log group and the control group) were compared on post-test scores and a weather forecasting activity. No statistically significant differences (p < 0.05) were found among the groups on these measures. However, follow-up interview data obtained from five diverse students in the treatment group showed that the simulation with authentic situations, multiple representations and the capability of reviewing previous actions supported science learning. For the student who was able to readily take advantage of the information contained in the log and graphs, the simulation exercises were quickly completed and a sufficient understanding of the concept was developed to transfer the newly-gained knowledge to new situations, weather forecast exercises. For others, the simulation was less effective. Only one interviewee showed all three stages of Goos and Galbraith's model of problem solving. This student also demonstrated a better understanding of how to transfer newly-gained knowledge to weather forecast exercises. The other four interviewees, who did not show the features of all the stages, needed the teachers' facilitation to develop their problem-solving skills in order to achieve optimal learning when using the instructional simulation.
ASJC Scopus subject areas