PERFORMANCE EVALUATION OF COMPUTER SIMULATIONS IN SCIENCE SUBJECTS

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INTRODUCTION TO CHAPTER ONE

It is described as an effort to replicate on a computer a real-life or hypothetical occurrence so that it may be analyzed in order to determine how the system performs, according to Wikipedia (2009). System behavior predictions may be made by modifying the variables in the system, which can be used to forecast the behavior of the system as a whole. A computer program that seeks to mimic an abstract model of a specific system under examination can also be thought of as an example. In the words of Thomas and Hooper (1991), a computer simulation is a computer program that comprises a manipulable model of a real-world or theoretical system that can be tested. Students may use the application to guide the model through a series of intermediate phases in order to move it from one state to another and eventually to a defined goal state, as seen in the video. Because of this, the simulation program receives directions from the user and, as necessary, makes alterations to the existing state of the model. As soon as the situation calls for it, the newly created state is presented. It is possible that computer simulations will prove to be extremely effective tools for a number of activities including assessing, developing, and engaging with complex systems or processes. The components of the current learning aim that are the most important to a learner can be represented by computer simulations that are carefully built. It has been said by the authors that “they also tell both teachers and students when there are elements of the real-life system or process that have been reduced or eliminated” (Heinich, Molenda, Russell, & Smaldino, 1999; Sternberg, 1999). Developing correct mathematical models is the foundation of successful computer simulations, and it is essential for effectively depicting the phenomenon or process under investigation (Min, 2002). According to the National Institute of Standards and Technology, on the other hand, “computer simulations have been shown to be most beneficial for learning when extraneous components of the real-life event or process are excluded from the simulation” (National Institute of Standards and Technology, n.d). (Granland, Bergland, & Eriksson, 2000).
As defined by Akpan (2002), “simulation is “the process of creating an accurate model of an actual system and performing tests on that model with the purpose of either learning how the system behaves or assessing various methods to its operation.” Incorporating the power of the computer into virtual reality simulations may prove to be a beneficial tool for educators in the development of higher-level cognitive processes and problem-solving abilities in students at a younger age than is now possible with traditional methods (Ellis, 1984; Marks, 1982; Nakleh, 1983, and Switzer and White, 1984). Classroom simulations in science courses, according to several authors, have the potential to play an important and valid role in the creation of virtual experiments that allow students to use instruments and monitor experiments while they are learning, test new models, and improve their intuitive understanding of complex phenomena. The use of simulations in the classroom, they believe, can assist students in developing a more intuitive understanding of intricate processes. Heinich and colleagues (1999) discovered that simulations can assist students in recognizing links between components of a system, learning about the system, and managing the components of the system, among other things. Through the use of simulations, instructors may make in-class learning more enjoyable for students by giving them the chance to practice in various settings that are similar to “real-life” challenges that they may encounter in the future. Pupils’ ability to synthesize knowledge is enhanced by simulations, which allow them to apply what they already know in a new scenario. Additionally, by providing children with a range of options from which to choose, they are able to achieve a greater level of cognitive functioning as well. Simulators may also be beneficial to students because they give them with learning environments in which they may search for meaning, learn to accept ambiguity, and develop a sense of responsibility.
Simulators have the potential to make major contributions to scientific education by, among other things, offering adequate learning opportunities to a varied range of learners and inspiring students to learn science both within and outside of the classroom environment. Students are introduced to the obstacles through simulations, and they are given the opportunity to use the simulation as a powerful instrument to conduct investigations and solve problems over the course of the course. Aiming to transfer knowledge while also fostering higher-order problem-solving abilities in both the classroom and the real world, educational simulations are used to help students learn more effectively. Students can examine what happens as a result of their investigations and manipulations of variables since they have the capacity to experiment with and adjust variables in simulations. In order to provide feedback to the participants’ thinking and learning processes, the outcomes of this study should be utilised in future research.

Computer simulations give a way of verifying our understanding of the actual world by simulating the structure and dynamics of a conceptual system or a real environment in a controlled setting (Lunce, 2004). Because they concentrate on the most crucial components of a real-world scenario or system, they are able to give “interactive practice” of practical skills (Heinich, Molenda, Russell, & Smaldino, 1999). Similar to interactive museum displays, computer simulations have the capacity to “convey difficult and sophisticated scientific knowledge,” according to the National Science Foundation (Saul, 2001). As a result, a compelling computer simulation encourages learners to take an active role in the interaction. For example, an engaging computer simulation can assist learners in predicting the course and outcomes of certain actions, understanding why observed events occur, exploring the effects of changing preliminary conclusions, gaining insight, and stimulating critical thinking. When employing computer simulations in the classroom, students can also receive “feedback during the learning process,” according to the MIT Sloan School of Management (Granland, Bergland, & Eriksson, 2000). In part because “computer simulations are flexible and dynamic,” they can assist learners in accomplishing certain learning objectives by providing them with support (Gibbons, Fairweather, Anderson, & Merrill, 1997).

Several limitations of computer simulations as compared to other educational approaches must be taken into consideration while evaluating their effectiveness. Due to the widespread use of computer simulations in conjunction with “problem-based learning” methods, they encourage students to personally engage with a problematic situation and experiment with a variety of approaches that can take a long time to arrive at a solution as the first step in the learning process (Heinich, et. al.,1999). As a result, this type of learning may take much longer to complete than other types of education, if not significantly longer than other types of education. As a second point, research has revealed that, in the absence of coaching, the learner obtains little benefit from “discovery learning” through computer simulations, as indicated by the paper’s authors (Min, 2001; Heinich, Molenda, Russell, & Smaldino, 1999). In their view, computer simulations “oversimplify the complexities of real-life situations,” leading to the learner developing a “incorrect understanding” of the real-world problem or system as a result of the simulation (Heinich, et. al., 1999). Finally, it should be mentioned that the construction of computer simulations may need extensive planning on your side, as well as a significant investment of both time and financial resources on your part, before it can begin.

 

Simulator Characteristics and Features

According to Rik (2001), the concept of simulation is a genuine container concept that may be portrayed in a variety of various ways. Management games, war games, training simulators, model driven simulations, and a slew of other activities may be employed in education, in addition to role plays and group discussions, among many other things. There are many more ways to explain simulation, but the fundamental idea is that it is based on the concept of a real container.

He believes that simulation should be viewed from the perspective of someone who is attempting to learn on their own, and that simulation software should be treated as a learning tool. For the most of his working life, he restricted himself to computer-based simulations and modeling exercises. This work is therefore limited to “model-driven computer simulation,” which is a type of computer simulation based on mathematical models of phenomena that we believe is essential to incorporate into education, either through the use of computers in a lesson or by passing it on to children as a worthwhile experience, and which is more or less common.

Standard model-driven computer simulation may be used as a learning tool in a number of settings, and it is becoming increasingly popular. It takes phenomena from the worlds of children and adults into the family home for the aim of observing and discussing them with the rest of the family. Everything, from knowledge on the growth of crops in the tropics to information about the Dutch economy to information in the field of medical, has suddenly been accessible at a low cost and with little trouble. In the classroom, for in-company training, or for extra mural training in general, such learning tools are extremely popular among teachers and educational planners all over the world, whether they are delivered on CD-i, CD-rom, or downloaded from the electronic highway, or whether they are delivered in the home, on CD-i, CD-rom, or downloaded from the electronic highway. Because they can be executed on a computer, computer simulations are frequently recognized as excellent multimedia projects in their own right. A significant benefit may now be gained through the use of motion graphics, video, and other dynamic forms of representation due to the development and availability of low-cost graphic and animation software. Such simulations can only be carried out if mathematical models (also known as “model-driven” models) are first built to represent the relevant events. Then intelligent input must be supplied to guide the simulations throughout their course. Besides the fact that computers are necessary for the digitization of all kinds of information and feedback, they are also required for simulations that should be based on mathematical models and that cannot be carried out without the assistance of computers.

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