Integrating computer simulations into the teaching of physics - an action research approach
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This paper describes the use of an action research approach in determining different teaching strategies for the use of computer simulations by physics teachers. Six physics teachers from two different school districts collaborated in two cycles of action research. Three methods of gathering data were employed during each research cycle. This approach facilitated the use of triangulation in determining common results. The first data gathering method focused on journaling - teachers maintained a journal on their thoughts and their reactions while they were implementing the computer simulations. The second methodology was individual interviews during which teachers shared their thoughts, opinions, and observations regarding the implementation of the computer simulations as well as on the use and relative merit of the action research approach. The third method was a general meeting that was held at the end of each cycle of implementation and research to review the participants’ experiences. The research suggested that collaboration among physics teachers could be one of the better ways of deciding new strategies for using simulations in the teaching of physics. One of the main findings is that teachers will change their instructional style when working together in practical action research groups.