Developing students' problem solving skills by learning simulation "hiking across Estonia"
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A unique web-based learning environment “Hiking Across Estonia” (http://bio.edu.ee/tour/) comprising two modules – one for students and another for developers and researchers – has been composed. Students have to solve 30 environmental problem-solving tasks in five virtual ecosystems with the help of additional information and virtual tools that can be opened in the same window. The answers of participants are saved in the database of the server for analysing students’ performance in solving the tasks. An all over Estonian competition between teams consisting of three to five students (n = 462) of basic and high school was organized in the spring of 2002. The ANCOVA analysis of the participants’ answers in the preand post-test demonstrated the improvement of students’ problem-solving skills statistically significantly. This finding was strongly influenced by their achievements in the pretest – the participants with initial lower problem-solving skills developed considerably more. It was also verified that students’ skills to analyse texts, graphs and figures improved as a result of the application of the simulation. The analysis of the server database supported the fact that the students’ ability to solve the problems developed significantly – according to the Spear man rank order correlation the score per task increased during the us-age of the programme. The achievements of basic school students improved more than these of high school students.