Appears in:
Pages: 8775-8785
Publication year: 2017
ISBN: 978-84-697-3777-4
ISSN: 2340-1117
doi: 10.21125/edulearn.2017.0646

Conference name: 9th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 3-5 July, 2017
Location: Barcelona, Spain

# ENHANCING STUDENTS' ABILITY TO «VARIABLE CONTROL» THROUGH INQUIRY-BASED SIMULATIONS

A. Michaloudis, E. Hatzikraniotis

Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (GREECE)
Control of Variables Strategy is a method for studying multi-variable phenomena. In inquiry-based processes we must determine the relationship between the variables. To do so, we experiment. In multi-variable phenomena we seek for the relationship between the “key” variables (dependant-independant) considering all other variables as control parameters. Control of variables strategy is considered highly important in scientific literacy, but the procedural skills needed for being able to conduct controlled experiments come only after practice and instruction of inquiry-based activities, either in real or in simulated laboratories.

Simulations and simulated Labs are computer programs with great significance in teaching, especially in Natural Sciences. By using simulations, teachers can engage students in inquiry-based activities that promote the acquisition of important both conceptual and procedural skills and alter students’ opinion about Science. The control of variables strategy can be admitted into the accompanying worksheets.

Our research focuses on simulations designed to test students’ ability of controlling the variables in a phenomenon. For this purpose, we created simulations to promote inquiry-based activities, following a four-level inquiry continuum, namely: closed, structured, guided and open level. Digital worksheets are included within the simulations and interact with the simulations, altering the simulations’ settings, depending on the users’ preferences. All the actions (clicks, changing the parameters, etc.) that students perform in the simulations are recorded into log files.

In order to test students’ understanding about the control of the variables, we conducted a research in Greece, where 18 High School students participated without any prior experience in inquiry-based activities. Students filled 8 digital worksheets each, 2 per level of inquiry.

The results showed that students had difficulties in controlling the variables on multi-variable problems at the initial levels of inquiry, but later they were able to deal successively with them. Students’ ability to provide correct answers in the worksheets was increased, after interacting with the simulations, as well as the quality of the given answers, i.e. students could justify their answers based on the results of their activity.

The study of the log files showed an increment of the actions taken by the students, as we move from closed to open level of inquiry. The increment of the clicks was recorded in all types of actions, especially in click-types such as clicks on the graphic plots, which in the first levels of inquiry students didn’t make much use of them. More elements of the simulations were exploited in open level, rather in the first levels of inquiry.

In conclusion, our research showed that students developed a strategy of controlling the variables related to a phenomenon, in order to determine the relationship between key variables. Students also developed additional important conceptual and procedural skills, such as controlling the simulations, problem solving, designing procedures to acquire data, analyzing data and explaining their findings in more scientific ways.
@InProceedings{MICHALOUDIS2017ENH,
author = {Michaloudis, A. and Hatzikraniotis, E.},
title = {ENHANCING STUDENTS' ABILITY TO «VARIABLE CONTROL» THROUGH INQUIRY-BASED SIMULATIONS},
series = {9th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies},
booktitle = {EDULEARN17 Proceedings},
isbn = {978-84-697-3777-4},
issn = {2340-1117},
doi = {10.21125/edulearn.2017.0646},
url = {http://dx.doi.org/10.21125/edulearn.2017.0646},
publisher = {IATED},
location = {Barcelona, Spain},
month = {3-5 July, 2017},
year = {2017},
pages = {8775-8785}}
TY - CONF
AU - A. Michaloudis AU - E. Hatzikraniotis
TI - ENHANCING STUDENTS' ABILITY TO «VARIABLE CONTROL» THROUGH INQUIRY-BASED SIMULATIONS
SN - 978-84-697-3777-4/2340-1117
DO - 10.21125/edulearn.2017.0646
PY - 2017
Y1 - 3-5 July, 2017
CI - Barcelona, Spain
JO - 9th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
JA - EDULEARN17 Proceedings
SP - 8775
EP - 8785
ER -
A. Michaloudis, E. Hatzikraniotis (2017) ENHANCING STUDENTS' ABILITY TO «VARIABLE CONTROL» THROUGH INQUIRY-BASED SIMULATIONS, EDULEARN17 Proceedings, pp. 8775-8785.
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