The process of learning about static electricity and the role of the computer simulator
Valerie K. Otero, University of California, San Diego and San Diego State University, United States
University of California, San Diego and San Diego State University . Awarded
The concepts investigated in this study stemmed from two things. First, a pilot study where we found that the static electricity simulator results coupled with the CPU pedagogical structure provided facilitated the articulation and sharing of ideas in a small group of three students. From this we hypothesized that the simulator tools played a role in knowledge construction and we wanted to find out more about what role it played. Second, the past ten years of research in mathematics and science education has led to the recognition of the importance of the instructional setting, collaboration, and cognitive tools in the construction of knowledge.
A tradition has emerged where researchers have begun to look at the individual's knowledge construction through a different lens than the knowledge that emerges through group interactions. From this type of research, we can learn about the knowledge construction of the individual and the knowledge construction of the group. We can understand how the interactions within the group have influenced the knowledge development of the individual. However, we cannot learn about how the individual influences the group parameters. Repeated interactions between individuals and tools can fundamentally change the social and material setting. We need to look at how the social and material setting changes as a result of the individuals' interaction with it and how this changing social setting influences the conceptual development of the individual. Investigating interdependent interaction between the individual and the social and material setting is the foundation for this work. I believe that understanding learning requires more than understanding the individual and understanding the social environment of which he was a part. Understanding learning means understanding how the individual changes the social and material setting and how these changes influence the individual. This dissertation is devoted to understanding individuals' learning, the factors that influenced it and further understanding how these factors were determined by the knowledge evolution of the individual.
Otero, V.K. The process of learning about static electricity and the role of the computer simulator. Ph.D. thesis, University of California, San Diego and San Diego State University.
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