You are here:

Impact of integrating computer simulation into traditional lecture-lab activities of an engineering technology course

, Northern Illinois University, United States

Northern Illinois University . Awarded


The objective of this case study was to explore the impact of the use of computer simulation design methods on students’ problem-solving skills for circuit construction in an undergraduate technical course. A mixed-method research design was employed to identify the presence or absence of learning patterns. The hypothesis was tested by investigating the three key questions: (1) Does the use of simulation improve students’ learning outcomes? (2) How do faculty members perceive the use and effectiveness of simulation in the delivery of technical course content? (3) How do students perceive the instructional design features embedded in the simulation program such as exploration and scaffolding support in learning new concepts?

The study employed qualitative and quantitative modes of data evaluation vis-à-vis cognitive apprenticeship instructional methodology. The sample used consisted of 24 freshmen enrolled in an 8-week technical course at a leading private university. Two groups were used; one was taught using simulation and hands-on instructional strategy, and the other was exposed to hands-on instruction only.

The findings reveal that simulation by itself is not very effective in promoting student learning. Simulation becomes effective when it is followed by hands-on activity. The findings suggest that students should be first exposed to theoretical concepts in the simulation environment and then required to perform a hands-on activity. The assessment revealed that scaffolds designed to elicit problem-solving knowledge improve students’ comprehension of circuit building. Furthermore, the findings suggest that in order to enhance student learning, the instructional design should consider three approaches: (1) Using simulation-based experiments in the first half of the course, followed by hands-on experiments in the second half (sequential design). (2) Simultaneous use of simulation and hands-on experiments (parallel design). (3) Using simulation and hands-on in an alternating mode (mixed design).

The recommendations based on the findings of the case study suggest ways to improve student learning and propose ideas and strategies for conducting the next phases of research for simulation-based learning.


Taher, M.T. Impact of integrating computer simulation into traditional lecture-lab activities of an engineering technology course. Ph.D. thesis, Northern Illinois University. Retrieved October 17, 2019 from .

This record was imported from ProQuest on October 23, 2013. [Original Record]

Citation reproduced with permission of ProQuest LLC.

For copies of dissertations and theses: (800) 521-0600/(734) 761-4700 or