Scientific epistemic beliefs contain four different dimensions: the nature of knowledge as fixed or changing; the nature of knowledge as absolute or relative; the source of knowledge and if it can be challenged; and that the derivation of knowledge can be derived from known facts or engagement in critical thinking [ 4 ]. NOS beliefs center on the values and understanding associated with scientific knowledge [ 5 ]. NOS knowledge encompasses seven elements including: the dynamic nature of science; the role of creativity in science; the influence of widely held, or accepted beliefs on science; the empirical basis of science; the influence of culture on science; the differences between theories and laws in science; and the nature of observations in science [ 5 ].
NOS and science inquiry, although related, are often incorrectly used as synonymous terms [ 6 ]. Science inquiry refers to the processes utilized by scientists that lead to generation of new scientific knowledge. This is in contrast to NOS, which refers to philosophical underpinnings that distinguish the practice of science from other disciplines [ 6 ].
Furthermore, the NGSS stipulate that consideration of science practices in addition to content and crosscutting examples are essential to student success in the science classroom [ 2 ]. One of the barriers to effectively modeling authentic science practices within the classroom is feasibility. Schools are limited by time, money, and safety concerns and consequently laboratory experiments are typically dispatched in a recipe-like format where students passively follow a set of instructions to effectively and safely reach an expected scientific outcome. Furthermore, various features of authentic science practices are often abstract and difficult for students to conceptualize therefore resulting in additional challenges for instructors.
To teach authentic science practices adequately requires both teacher mastery of authentic science practices and utilization of a cognitive apprenticeship model in which the teacher makes his or her thought process visible to the students [ 9 ]. One of the essential parts of forming a cognitive apprenticeship is scaffolding.
The use of technology in the classroom offers new opportunities for teaching authentic science practices by allowing students to engage in inquiry activities that are otherwise not feasible with a typical classroom setting. In addition to giving both teachers and students more flexibility to perform scientifically authentic inquiry, simulations can also serve as scaffolds for helping students manage complicated tasks that are often inherent in authentic inquiry.
Quintana et al [ 10 ] outline a strategic framework for successful use of scaffolding and give examples of how various technologies are used to scaffold students as they undertake inquiry tasks. The authors contend that the scaffolding provided through the use of simulations may make difficult inquiry tasks more accessible [ 10 ]. Overall, these technologies are promising candidates as educational tools to advance science education as they can simultaneously improve student understanding of concepts and processes while maintaining student motivation for learning [ 11 ].
These SCI simulations aim to promote authentic science inquiry and teach authentic science practices in a safe, cost effective, and timely manner. We define simulations as computer-based, dynamic representations of an entity, potentially invisible, where the user can manipulate the parameters [ 11 — 13 ]. In the case of SCI, each simulation was designed to represent the dynamic, trial-and-error nature of authentic science inquiry and to be easily adaptable to any discipline or age level.
As a scaffold, SCI simulations help students think critically about research questions and problems in a manner more reminiscent of real scientists.
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SCI simulations are not only a useful instructional tool, but have the potential to serve as a powerful assessment framework through the collection of real time student data. Therefore, we field tested SCI simulations with five different groups of students ranging in age from 6—12 th grade enrolled in various extracurricular informal learning experiences. We found that students reported that their perceived level of learning and amount of thought needed to complete the simulations was high, although they found the tasks to be not overwhelmingly difficult.
Importantly, students reported that using SCI simulations alone without any instruction on authentic science practices altered their understanding of the practices utilized by scientists. The change in understanding of authentic science practices was positively correlated with the amount of learning reported by students. Therefore, SCI simulations have the potential to grow into a powerful tool for teaching authentic science practices in a fun, student friendly, and cost effective manner.
Therefore, any device with a web browser and networking capabilities can participate in a SCI simulation. The SCI-Sim architecture utilizes an abstraction layer to hide the details of website forms, databases, web servers, and even the HTML code of each page, allowing the simulation designer to instead focus on the scientific content and flow of the simulation. The scientific content of each SCI simulation is presented to the student as a series of interconnected pages. Each page is designed to present the scientific content in an engaging multimodal fashion, integrating text, images, video, or any other technology.
At the end of each page, one or more choices are presented, allowing the student to choose his or her path through the simulation Fig. As the student progresses through the simulation, every detail is recorded into a centralized database. In addition to supplying a wealth of information for the instructor or researcher, the data recorded for each student enables the real-time, user-specific customization of the simulation.
Each simulation is personalized by allowing student autonomy, specifically to pursue his or her hypotheses and chosen testing strategy. Furthermore, the simulation responds to inputs that each student makes. For example, the student's choice and justification of hypothesis can be used to customize the prompts of the simulation's conclusion, encouraging the student to reflect upon his or her original thought process and observe how it has changed given additional evidence.
After logging into the appropriate simulation, students read pertinent background information and are introduced to problem i. Students are then asked to pick a hypothesis from a list of pre-generated hypotheses Seizing Sea Lions and Neural Tube Defects or to come up with their own hypothesis Unusual Mortality Events and then asked to give their rationale for their hypothesis. Students are then taken to the tests section of the simulation where they are given the option to try a variety of tests, in any manner of their choosing.
After the student has completed a previously determined number of tests, a link appears shown as Link 5 in the diagram which allows the student to move forward in the simulation. Virtual lab notebooks offer additional personalization. Free-form entries may be made at any point in the simulation. Entries are also automatically added to the lab notebook when the student reaches important milestones in the simulation.
An Introduction to Simulations as Scaffolds in Science Education
For example, when he or she selects and justifies a hypothesis, the selection and justification are recorded in the lab notebook. These record keeping features encourage use of cumulative evidence to support conclusions and offer a chance for student self-reflection on the process of investigation.
A central library feature is accessible from anywhere in the simulation, containing links to content the instructor thinks might be useful for the students. In the simulations highlighted here, these links included a variety of information such as general information about the species or people impacted by the target problem, news stories reporting on the issue, and general information that the student may or may interpret as relevant to the problem.
For example, in the Unusual Mortality Events simulation, articles were included about the biology of manatees, dolphins, and brown pelicans, other examples of unusual mortality events, and reports of invasive species and harmful algal blooms in the Indian River Lagoon. The articles included in the library are selected to provide support if students choose to independently seek additional content information. Supplemental materials also give students ideas about potentially causal variable relevant to the targeted problem. To make the SCI simulations more authentic, the library does not point students towards one answer, but allows the student to evaluate a variety of probable causes and background information to aid in the development of an independent hypothesis.
For this study, three discreet SCI simulations were developed, each placing the student in the role of researcher tasked with solving a problem. The content for each simulation varied; two of the simulations were focused on historic and current unusual mortality events Seizing Sea Lions and Unusual Mortality Events , and a third focused on a high rate of fetal neural tube defects occurring in a fictional town Neural Tube Defects.
Seizing Sea Lions and Unusual Mortality Events were the most similar simulations, with the former focused on a historic unusual mortality event affecting sea lions in California [ 14 ] and the latter focused on the more recent unusual mortality events affecting brown pelicans, bottlenose dolphins, and manatees in the Indian River Lagoon and bottlenose dolphins along the eastern coast of the United States of America. The simulation content was designed to be as accurate as possible based on the current scientific literature and discussion with scientists and conservation organizations.
Therefore, to increase the authenticity of this experience, students were tasked with independently assessing and analyzing real world data about existing problems to formulate their own unique ideas. Seizing Sea Lions and Neural Tube Defects had a slightly different organization and incorporated additional information segments within the simulation such that after an initial round of hypothesis generation, testing, and conclusions students were introduced to the concept of domoic acid Seizing Sea Lions and folic acid Neural Tube Defects.
Following introduction to additional concepts, students then entered into a second phase of hypothesis generation and testing. Unusual Mortality Events differed from the other two simulations. For this simulation, instead of picking from a list of pre-defined hypotheses, students were required to generate their own hypothesis, perform up to 5 species-specific tests, generate a final conclusion and then extrapolate their findings to a different concurrent unusual mortality event.
Students were also tasked with choosing one model species to study manatees, dolphins, or pelicans and justify their decision. Unusual Mortality Events also differed from the other two simulations since at the time of the study, there was no known unifying cause for these unusual mortality events. This is in contrast to Seizing Sea Lions and Neural Tube Defects as the root causes of each problem presented in these simulations were well established.
Therefore, students using the Unusual Mortality Events could not easily find answers via the Internet or from prior knowledge, requiring a higher degree of creativity and problem solving on the part of the student. Participants in this study were students enrolled in various extracurricular informal educational activities in large mid-Atlantic city.
As part of normal classroom activities, students worked through a SCI simulation. Since data used for this study was generated as part of normal informal classroom activities, the analysis of archived de-identified student data was determined by the Georgia State University Institutional Review Board Protocol H to be not human subjects research and therefore waived the requirement for informed consent. Participation in this educational activity was voluntary and permission to collect student responses to these informal educational activities was provided informally.
Student demographics include 29 middle school students and 59 high school students. Detailed information regarding gender and ethnicity was not collected, but participating students were of mixed ethnicities and gender. Additional information on each class setting can be found in Table 1.
Prior to working through the simulation, students were given background information pertaining to the content of the simulation, but no information on authentic science practices. For example, prior to completing the Seizing Sea Lions simulation, students learned about regions of the brain and various brain imaging techniques. Students worked in groups of 2—4, depending on setting and computer availability, to complete SCI simulations.
Following completion of each SCI simulation, students individually completed anonymous paper-based surveys that we generated to obtain student feedback. Students were asked to rate on a 5-point Likert Scale the level of perceived difficulty, the amount of thought required, and how much the student felt like the simulation helped them to learn and understand the material.
A response of one on our scale represented a perception of very little whereas a five indicating a great deal. Why or why not? The Unusual Mortality Events simulation was the most widely used simulation Table 1 and this decreased level of perceived difficulty may stem from the fact that students in Setting 2 had a significantly easier time completing this particular simulation than in other settings Fig. Graphs represent the average score on a 5-point Likert scale where 5 represents a high and 1 a low rating and error bars represent SEM. Students also considered all simulations to be helpful for learning mean 3.
Analysis using a One-way ANOVA indicated no statistically significant differences in one simulation as more helpful than the others for the purposes of learning. This greater perceived level of thought reported for Unusual Mortality Events may be due to the students being required to select their own species of focus, generate their own hypotheses, and extrapolate their findings to a concurrent, but geographically different unusual mortality event.
We also compared student ratings across the three programmatic settings where SCI simulations were utilized.
For the purposes of statistical analysis, Setting 1 is comprised of groups 1—3 Table 1 , as these were students enrolled in different courses offered within the framework of a single educational program. Settings 2 and 3 were distinct programs from Setting 1 Table 1. This is not surprising given that the students in Setting 2 were rising high school junior and seniors enrolled in a pre-college immersive experience and most likely had more experience with similar instructional activities.
Among the 88 students who completed SCI simulations, 29 were in middle school and 59 were in high school. We also observed a slight trend indicating the middle school students perceived a higher degree of difficulty and required more thought to finish the simulation Fig. Since our data set only included 88 students total, this trend may become more pronounced using a greater sample size. C Regardless of setting, students reported changes in their perceptions of authentic science practices. We used a Chi-Square analysis to determine the degree to which students changed their thoughts was related to the simulation they used, the setting they were in, or their age.
We detected no effect of simulation Fig.
You need to make her go forward in 4 s. Not only did Dylan and Connor finish all the game levels before anyone else in the class, they also scored high on the posttest at the end, demonstrating strong conceptual understanding through their game play performance and scores on the posttest. While Dylan started with a high pretest score, Connor had one of the larger gains across all the classes, possibly suggesting that his interaction with the game helped him make sense of the science embedded within the game.
His gains could also possibly be attributed to his close proximity and access to Dylan, a student in his group who had a more sophisticated conceptual understanding of the science and math ideas in the game, as evidenced by his high pretest score. Although most students used internal scaffolds in some way to assist their game play, many also found that these scaffolds were not enough to get through challenges.
We noticed that the type of knower students sought out and the nature of the questions they asked varied by student. Students who primarily wanted to pass levels but did not care as much about the reasoning behind their success or failure tended to solicit assistance that would help them advance in the moment on a particular level.
An example of these orientations can be seen in the focus group. At some point in his game play, however, he got somewhat frustrated that he could not do more with the rescued fuzzies. He made the least progress in his group and actually showed losses in his posttest score.
I was focused on beating the game. We observed him reading the feedback, presumably to reanalyze his approach. With either orientation, students identified different knowers in the learning environment when they wanted help to make progress toward their goal. In this study, we surveyed each student that was present on day 3 of game play and asked how they typically got help when they encountered a sticking point in the game.
All students first responded that they started with internal scaffolds within the game. When the game did not provide the help they needed, some of them identified four categories of external scaffolds, what we are calling in this case knowers , that they turned to for further help. Levels completed at the end of each day of game play and pre-post performance for focus group. They leaned on the internal scaffolds to help them figure out what to do: they would revisit earlier levels of the game to help with later levels, repeatedly consult help screens or hints, or write down notes from the help screens.
There was little audible or visible evidence of the use of this scaffold, but students self-reported these behaviors when speaking with researchers. In the focus group, both Dylan and Preston were classified into this category as they rarely, if ever, sought help from an external scaffold and relied on the game to help them progress through levels. However, since Dylan possessed a sense-making orientation, while Preston demonstrated a game-play orientation, their interactions with the internal scaffolds looked different, as described previously. Students in other groups showed their reliance on the game as knower in a couple of different ways.
Another student described how he would copy and paste the help tips into an internet browser so he could flip back to see them when he got stuck. For some students, these strategies suggest they are applying knowledge of games outside the classroom to be successful with this game.
Next Step Learning
For example, students who are familiar with games may expect help features within the game to provide all the assistance that is necessary to succeed with game play. He kept reading the help in the game but did not understand what it was telling him to do. No students in his group nor Mrs. L knew that he was stuck for a full class period.
There were a few students who showed visible evidence beyond the screen that they were doing something more in the game than just getting through levels. Students who fell in this category often used the feedback and help from the game to then integrate their prior knowledge of math and physics before deciding on their next strategy. These students worked through the challenge on their own, often succeeding with just the help suggestions within the game. Yet, there were times they tapped into external tools or representational resources, such as paper and pencil to extend graph lines, to help them with their sensemaking.
For example, while a level was running, one student moved her arms in gestures that mirrored the graph lines that were being generated in the game. A few students used paper to do some inscriptional work with mathematical notations that were not in the game or modified representations in the game by using extra paper to stretch graph lines to better obtain data. For example, Connor used an index card to mark a dot on one card that he held up to a graph, and then he moved that card up to the graph above it, demonstrating his strategy of coordinating information across graphs to inform his next move.
It was not always any member of the group who could serve as the knower, however. Students had multiple reasons for selecting different peers. Sometimes, the same student would call on different peer knowers for different reasons. For example, Grant positioned Connor and Dylan as his knowers at different times.
Initially, when he asked for help, he adopted a game play orientation to help him get through a level. Later, when Grant realized that Dylan was so far ahead and working with the game in his own way, he called on Connor when he needed help making sense of the dot trace map.
This was interesting because Preston and Dylan were the peers closest in proximity see Figure 3 , but Grant recognized that the two of them had their own game play strategies that would be interrupted if he asked a question. He knew Connor was ahead of him, but closer to his own level than Dylan, so he asked Connor to physically walk around to his computer and help him. Here, we see an example where the group member that was the farthest along in the game Dylan in this case was not always positioned as the knower in the group.
Many students responded that they preferred to get help from a group member that was just slightly ahead of them in the game instead of the student who was several levels ahead. In this group, Grant selected his peer knower based on what he needed—a quick response to get through a level, or someone who could spend more time with him to make sense of the level. Other students had different reasons for calling on different peers.
Some students identified a partner as knower. Early on in game play, there were some groups where two or more members explicitly decided to work through each level together. These groups tended to move relatively slowly through game play, making sure that each member in the partnership was progressing. For example, there were times when one member had a lucky guess that allowed him to pass the level, but he struggled to get his partners through the same level because he did not have sound reasoning. But, he would not move on to the next level until his other partners were with him.
In general, students that worked in partnerships would hang back with the slowest member to work together to identify the inputs that would yield successful outputs. In these groups, each individual worked independently. How did you do it? Sometimes it was an individual who recently completed the level.
Other times, it was a student who was willing to take the time to work through a level with someone else. Finally, some groups had one student who would serve as the knower for anyone in the group. In one group, when the students were asked who they go to for help, they all identified the same individual in the group. He also identified himself as the group knower. They would provide some assistance, but it was often terse and more of a cheat.
Technology Enhanced Learning Environments - ETEC
If their help did not work, they most often did not spend any more time trying to help the student who asked for assistance. Whether reluctant or not, the peer as knower group was the external help that most students turned to when they got stuck in the game. It seems that working in groups, or just having the ability to talk to peers when needed, is an external scaffold to game play that students are comfortable using for assistance. Students respond well to the peer feedback, and this keeps them engaged in game play by helping them work through obstacles collaboratively.
L for help. This group included students who first tried to work with the internal scaffolds of the game, still got stuck on a level, and immediately turned to Mrs. L to help them work through the challenge. These students rarely consulted with their group members, preferring instead to work exclusively with Mrs.
Students in this category indicated that they went to Mrs. In our focus group, no one solicited help from Mrs. It was clear early on that Mrs. One girl happened to be in a group where the other members all missed a day and she ended up being many levels ahead of her peers. Thus, because she did not feel she had a peer in her group who could help her with the game, she instead went straight to Mrs.
Still, when students asked for help on these early levels, she did not give them a direct answer to their questions. Instead, she pressed their reasoning and encouraged them to try different options. Whether their attempts failed or succeeded, she then encouraged them to reflect on what they did to make sense of the failure or success. She spent a lot of time with students when they requested help in the early levels.
As the levels got more complex, she tended to hover over a student and watch their game play decisions, but she asked fewer questions and interacted on the whole much less frequently with students. This could be one reason why more students did not call on her for additional help and instead chose another strategy—either within the game or asking a peer for help. This paper explores how students used the internal scaffolds in the game and external scaffolds provided by other knowers in the classroom to successfully play a game for learning physics. A key finding, while not surprising, was that not all students engage in game play in the same manner.
Some students approached the game from a game-play orientation where they were simply focused on solving levels, while others approached the game from a sense-making orientation where they sought to truly understand the target concepts and formal representations. In this study, most students started within the game to find the help they needed to advance in levels. When they ran into a need for help, their game-play orientation influenced who they turned to and for what reason. Whether they turned to their own ability to make sense of the game, requested help from a peer, or solicited Mrs.
External resources, from paper to peers, were accessible by all students. Even the desk arrangement, from traditional rows in their typical class sessions to groupings of four for the game sessions, seemed to be an invitation for students to work together. Communication among peers was clearly encouraged. These findings have important implications for how teachers design a game play learning environment in their classroom.
Physically, different arrangements of furniture, particularly when computers are used, imply different kinds of participant structures. Teachers should consider what kind of access they want their students to have to external scaffolds, including their peers, during game play. Teachers also need to be aware of different orientations that students may adopt during game play and how their stance may influence how they are attending to the conceptual underpinnings of the game.
This could mean that teachers take an active role during game play to facilitate connections between the game and science learning either through intentional discourse with groups or in whole-class instruction interspersed throughout the game play period. This kind of discourse can be invaluable to foster the necessary science thinking during game play. Research has shown that students can get very distracted while doing a particular activity and forget to attend to what they are supposed to be understanding [ 21 ]. In a game play, this same stance can happen, particularly for students who have a game play orientation like Preston and who are very concerned with beating the game, but not learning along the way.
Teachers can play a role to facilitate the game-to-science content connection for students. Allowing students to work in groups, even if they are playing the game individually, encourages students to talk, which allows their thinking to become visible [ 22 ]. Teachers can use this talk as a formative assessment opportunity to identify ideas that need to be addressed and questions that can be asked to deepen student thinking [ 23 ].
Leveraging effective teaching practices with the affordances of digital games for learning can potentially lead to rich, meaningful student engagement with scientific ideas. We believe this paper also has implications for the designers of future games for learning. While some students relied exclusively on internal scaffolds and their own prior knowledge and resources, many students preferred to seek help from a peer or Mrs.
We think game designers should consider the social capital present in most classrooms and leverage the discourse that will likely emerge when games are played in a traditional K classroom. This could take the form of online discussion forums or embedded videos that serve as a virtual teacher and explain challenging concepts within the game.
This study has provided an examination of what DIG game play looked like in real classrooms. Progress toward the goal was interrupted by challenges, also presented by the game. When these challenges proved too difficult to overcome, students sought help, and this is where the game extended its reach into the classroom context. Understanding more about when students are reaching for help, who they are turning to, and what kind of help they are seeking can help game designers and teachers learn how to design effective learning environments that support game play in secondary science classrooms.
Essentially, while much research on the design of scaffolding in games for learning has focused on internal scaffolds, future research on external scaffolds may prove much more productive, with the added bonus of potentially even greater generalizability. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author s and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation. Licensee IntechOpen.
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Our readership spans scientists, professors, researchers, librarians, and students, as well as business professionals. Downloaded: Abstract We have developed a disciplinarily integrated game DIG to support students in interpreting, translating, and manipulating across formal representations in the domain of Newtonian kinematics. Keywords game-based learning disciplinarily integrated games science education game design scaffolds. Introduction Interpreting, translating, and manipulating across formal representations is central to scientific practice and modeling [ 1 , 2 , 3 ].
Background 2. Internal and external scaffolds The notion of scaffolding was originally conceived as a process by which teachers, other adults, or peers provide assistance to help learners with tasks that are normally beyond their reach [ 12 ].
Disciplinarily integrated games SURGE Symbolic Figures 1 and 2 is the prototypical DIG template that we used in this study, and is the result of evolution of design, research, and thinking chronicled in Clark et al. Methods 3.
Table 1. Data collection Data collected for this study included pre-post scores and detailed daily field notes. Data analysis Data analysis included quantitative comparison of pre-post scores using paired t-tests and qualitative analysis of the field notes using inductive thematic analysis [ 18 , 19 ]. Analysis and findings To provide a backdrop for our analysis of how students made use of internal and external scaffolds during game play, we first analyze the pre-post scores. External scaffolds Although most students used internal scaffolds in some way to assist their game play, many also found that these scaffolds were not enough to get through challenges.