McElhaney, K. W., & Linn, M. C. (2008). Impacts of students’ experimentation using a dynamic visualization on their understanding of motion. In G. Kanselaar, V. Jonker, P. Kirschner, F. Prins (Eds.) International Perspectives in the Learning Sciences: Cre8ing a Learning World. Proceedings of the 8th International Conference of the Learning Sciences, Volume 2 (pp. 51-58). Utrecht, The Netherlands: International Society of the Learning Sciences.
This study examines how students’ experimentation with a dynamic visualization contributes to their understanding of science. We designed a week-long, technology-enhanced inquiry module on car collisions. The module uses new technologies that log student interactions with the visualization. Physics students (N=148) in six diverse high schools studied the module and responded to pretests, posttests, and embedded assessments. We scored students’ experimentation using three methods: total number of trials, how widely students changed variables between trials (variability), and how well students connected content knowledge to experimentation strategies (validity). Students made large, significant overall pretest to posttest gains. Regression models showed that validity was the strongest predictor of learning when controlling for prior knowledge and other experimentation measures. Successful learners employed a goal-directed experimentation approach that connected their experimentation strategy to content knowledge.