Week 6: What methods that I learned about in the research literature can I use to collect data? What new methods will I need to design?

There are many methods I could use to collect data on the students who are using science simulations in the classroom. I have limited it to a few. I plan to observe student interactions with each other and individually as they are working in a simulation. I will have one-on-one discussions with students to assess their deeper understanding of the concept just learned. The notes I take will be compiled and compared to address difficulties, functionality, and growth in understanding. I also plan to have the students rate the simulation for likability, educational benefit, and whether or not they would return to that site. After using a simulation there will be a short quiz to assess their understanding of the scientific concept that was addressed and explored throughout the simulation. Students will use these simulations to come up with an idea for a personal scientific experiment that they can reproduce in real life. They will then present their process, experiment and results to the class using a Prezi presentation.


I will need to design the following items:

  • Note taking guide for teacher observation
  • Rating scale for students to complete on simulations they’ve explored
  • Short quiz to assess scientific concepts learned on a simulation site
  • Rubric for the Prezi presentation


In looking through research by CITEd, I discovered by using multiple simulations students would better understand the process, thus being able to have a deeper understanding of real world problems. In this they will be able to explain more complex ideas that are difficult to replicate in the classroom. This is where observation and one-on-one discussion will help to demonstrate their understanding. Then I read part of Learning Science Through Computer Games and Simulations and discovered that, “…multiple choice… cannot assess students’ ability to design and execute all of the steps involved in carrying out a scientific investigation” (National Research Council, 2014, p 90). This just reaffirmed my belief in having the students create their own experiments to help support the learning they have done through these simulations. I would also be sure to make the quizzes summaries and quick explanations the kids would need to create rather than circling the correct answer. A good example of this was created by The Calipers Project. They came up with many simulation assessments that would truly show that the students understood the scientific concept that was to be learned when utilizing the simulation. They found that student were able to engage in active inquiry, and a deeper understanding of many complex topics. (Quellmalz et al., n.d.)


CITEd Research Center. (n.d.). Using Multimedia Tools to Help Students Learn Science.

Retrieved from http://www.cited.org/index.aspx?page_id=148


National Research Council of the National Academies. 2014. Learning Science Through

Computer Games and Simulations. 87-92. Retrieved from http://www.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=13078&page=R1


Quellmalz, E. S., DeBarger, A. H., Haertell, G., Schank, P., Buckley, B. C., Gobert, J.,

Horwitz, P., and Ayala, C. (n.d.). Exploring the Role of Technology-Based Simulations in Science Assessment: The Calipers Project. Retrieved from http://calipers.sri.com/downloads/CalipersAERA07.pdf


8 thoughts on “Week 6: What methods that I learned about in the research literature can I use to collect data? What new methods will I need to design?

  1. Sunshine,

    This looks like you have put a lot of thought into the direction you are going in with your research. I’m interested in simulation, because I think the interactive feature is such a great way for students to actually manipulate an artificial or natural system and learn about the process. Would have liked to have this opportunity with I was in middle-, high-school and even college! Here are some more thoughts I had after
    I looked up an article about students’ use of computer-based learning environments, simulation:

    The article mentioned that working memory for the learner is limited and that cognitive overload could result from too many elements being processed simultaneously (Eckhardt, Detlef, Conrad, & Harms, 2013). Also mentioned was having students follow a scientific approach based on inquiry learning.
    “Scientific discovery learning is in line with aspects of inquiry learning, including processes such as predicting (stating a possible simulation outcome), conducting (carrying out the simulated experiment and collecting data), and reasoning (drawing conclusions about the simulation outcome. . .” (Eckhardt, et al., p. 106).

    I think that as you have students use a rubric for their Prezi presentation, the categories mentioned here may help guide their thinking. I wonder if simulations may tend to overwhelm student thinking simply because science has its own language and makes Science Language Learners (SLLs) {I made this term up.} out of folks not well versed in environmental or physics processes. Therefore, having students even justitify their own inquiries with you and maybe with you and another student, will help scaffold learning.

    Eckhardt, M., Urhahne, D., Conrad, O., Harms, U. (2013). How effective is instructional support for learning with computer simulations? Instructional Science, 41, 105-124.


    • Aleta,
      Thanks for the resource, I have found that same information in other articles as well. I agree, you do need to think a little differently when dealing with science. But the process is important and they need to know it and know why.


  2. Sunshine,
    I’m curious about the note-taking/observation guide you intend to produce for the teacher, as I am in the same situation. Do you have access to examples from other research projects you’ve examined? What plans do you have for the form? I found this incredibly old article posted online, but I found that the suggestions and methods were sound…particularly the idea of students collecting evidence and data. While we, as researchers, may not have students participate as partners in research for this particular project…what do you think about including students are researchers in the future? I’m curious about this idea for research in the future. Here’s the old article: http://fcit.usf.edu/assessment/classroom/ST0032November97.pdf


    • Thanks for the resource, I was planning on just creating a template. I would want it to be general so that it could apply to anything we are doing. This way I don’t forget to address certain things when observing. Students are constantly researchers, or at least we need to train them to be. As specially as scientists. It is essential to the scientific process.


  3. I am fascinated by your topic, simulators, mostly because I have little to no experience with them and they sound interesting. What are they? Is it like using MinecraftEdu to create a science from a book. When I think of simulators I think of the space or airplane simulators that students use when learning to fly. However you mentioned using simulators and creating science experiments. It seems like you have a good grasp on what you need to do to prepare for collecting data. I think you will get some good information from the students when you ask them to rate the simulations. What grade level are you doing this project for?


    • I am going to be working with grades 3-5. Simulations can be like what you are thinking of, airplane, train, or even roller coaster simulations. There are lots of science-based simulations that show what happens when you change something. For example, there is a simulation that shows liquid in a container, you get to choose which liquid to put in it. Then you add an item (wood, metal, plastic, etc…) and see what happens to it when placed in that type of liquid. There are a vast amount of simulations out there, you just have to find the ones that apply to the subject matter you are teaching.


  4. I am in a similar situation with having to develop observation criteria that is easy enough to follow while being in-depth enough to reveal important data. If you Google “observation protocol for educators” you may find ideas that you can use. I am thinking that 4 or 5 specific items to observe is probably enough. Any more than that may be too much to follow.

    Liked by 1 person

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