We investigate the effects of interactive computer-based simulations which are presented prior to inquiry-based laboratory experiments on students' conceptual understanding of mechanics, waves/optics, and thermal physics. In principle, the simulations should serve as a cognitive framework for enhancing the subsequent more open-ended inquiry learning in the subject matter domain of the experiments. To test this prediction, the simulations and experiments were integrated into a one semester class for prospective physics teachers who served as students in the study. Semi-structured interviews were used to assess their ability to make correct predictions about the phenomenon in the experiments before using the latter and give correct explanations of the discrepancies between their predictions and their following observations. Conceptual tests were presented to assess conceptual understandings of each topic. Our results indicate that the use of the simulations improved the students' ability to make acceptable predictions and explanations of the phenomena in the experiments. The use of simulations also fostered a significant conceptual change in the physics content areas that were studied.


  • Education > General

Education Levels:

  • Grade 1
  • Grade 6
  • Grade 8
  • Grade 9


NSDL,Active Learning,Education Foundations,Undergraduate (Lower Division),Physics Education Research,General Physics,Graduate/Professional,Alternative Conceptions,digital simulation,Inquiry Learning,Higher Education,Undergraduate (Upper Division),Instructional Material Design,Computers,Learning Theory,Physics,computer aided instruction,Computing and Information,Technology,interactive systems,Education Practices,NSDL_SetSpec_439869,oai:nsdl.org:2200/20061003065847595T,Education,physics



Access Privileges:

Public - Available to anyone

License Deed:

Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike


This resource has not yet been aligned.
Curriki Rating
'NR' - This resource has not been rated
'NR' - This resource has not been rated

This resource has not yet been reviewed.

Not Rated Yet.

Non-profit Tax ID # 203478467