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An investigation of the use of instructional simulations in the classroom as a methodology for promoting transfer, engagement and motivation.

Description: Innovative educators seek technologies to facilitate or enhance the learning experience while taking nothing away from the message of instruction. Simulations have been shown to meet this requirement. While simulations cannot replace the teacher or the message of instruction, they can provide a deeper and more cognitively engaging learning experience. Classroom use of simulations has been ongoing since the 1960's. However, substantive research on their efficacy remains limited. What research has been conducted indicates that simulations possess great potential as aids to instruction. The author of this dissertation pursued this question focusing on whether simulations contribute to instruction by facilitating transfer, improved motivation and increased engagement. This dissertation documents a study in which instructional simulations were used in undergraduate science courses to promote engagement, transfer and knowledge-seeking behavior. The study took place at Midwestern State University (MSU), a public university located in north-central Texas with a student population of approximately 5,500. The study ran during the fall 2006 and spring 2007 terms. Samples consisted of students enrolled in GNSC 1104 Life / Earth Science during the fall term and GNSC 1204 Physical Science during the spring term. Both courses were offered through the Department of Science and Mathematics at MSU. Both courses were taught by the same professor and are part of the core curriculum for undergraduates in the West College of Education at MSU. GNSC 1104 and GNSC 1204 yielded samples of n = 68 and n = 78 respectively. A simulation focusing on earthquakes was incorporated into the curriculum in GNSC 1104 while a simulation which presented concepts from wave propagation was included in GNSC 1204. Statistical results from this study were mixed. Nevertheless, studies of this type are warranted to gain a more complete understanding of how students are impacted by their interactions with simulations as well ...
Date: August 2007
Creator: Lunce, Leslie Matthew

One-to-one technology and mathematics achievement for eighth grade girls and boys in the state of Maine.

Description: This study analyzed the eighth grade mathematics portion of the spring 2004 Maine Educational Assessment (MEA) achievement test and the survey questions that were also administered. The analysis was on a school-wide level (n = 182). The two survey questions used were: “Which statement best describes the use of calculators in your mathematics classes?” and "Which statement best describes how you use your laptop in mathematics class: getting data from the Web, finding mathematics problems online, creating graphs?" Correlational analysis, partial correlation, and regression were used to determine if there was any association between calculator usage, laptop usage, and mathematics achievement for girls and for boys in the first state-wide group of students to have one-to-one laptops in Maine. Calculator usage was found to be positively associated with mathematics achievement for both girls (partial correlation coefficient of .189 (p = .011)) and for boys (partial correlation coefficient of .193 (p = .010)) even after controlling for school size and socio-economic status. Though no significant association between laptop usage and mathematics achievement for either girls or boys was found, this may be more a reflection on the survey question being a weak measure than the usage of laptops. In a post-hoc analysis of findings, schools were rank ordered based on the average mathematics achievement score regardless of gender; the top 25% (n = 45) and the lower 25% (n = 45) of the schools were evaluated. In the top 25%, there was no statistically significant difference between school-wide girls' and boys' mathematics achievement scores. However, in the lower 25% of the schools, there was a statistically significant difference (p = .01) between the school-wide average of girls' and boys' mathematics achievement scores, with the girls' score being 1.49 points higher (p = .01, d = .447) than the boys'. Recommendations for ...
Date: May 2007
Creator: Overall, Theresa Lynne