Simulations, applets and learning in schools
de Bruijn, Imme
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This paper reviews the problem of establishing learning effects with computer simulation packages in science teaching. It is stated that evidence is accumulating about the effects of simulations in a laboratory environment and about the conditions or interventions which promote this learning effect. In schools, however, these learning effects have not been proven to occur, which could be a consequence of lack of control over experiments and fewer possibilities to set up decisive testing strategies. On this subject a small literature review was conducted. On the other hand, when implementing a computer simulation package, the insufficient adoption of the environment by teachers might be a factor influencing the use and the effect of such packages. A series of teacher interviews in Canada and the Netherlands sheds light on this phenomenon. In the discussion of this paper, we evaluate those laboratory based instructional measures which are successful in promoting learning effects and which can also be of use in school situations. Part of this discussion concerns the use of JAVA applets to produce robust tools that are effective in both laboratory and school settings.