The Computer Interactive Simulation Education Essay

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Chapter 1.0


Current research in Physics education is mainly focused on how to enhance students understanding in physics scientific concepts by making the classroom more interactive with the use of technology tools. This chapter will describe a brief introduction about the research background of the study, the purpose of the research being conducted, the formulated research questions and the definition of terms that will be used.

Research Background

As a science, Physics plays an important role in explaining the events that occur in the universe. In all events that around us can be explained by physical laws and principles. The development in physics in the 20th century has been extremely successful in that it also greatly benefited to the other basic and applied sciences from these developments (Fishbein 1975). Dieck, et al (1997) claimed that although physics is in every area in our life and facilitate our lives, national and international studies show that success in physics education is lower than other disciplines (Erdemir, 2009).

Students' views about a subject, influence their understanding and learning of that particular subject. Students' originally positive attitudes towards Science changed markedly in the upper secondary especially in chemistry and physics. (Trumper 2006) According to Angell (2004), many students thought and said that physics is difficult as they have to content with different representation such as experiments, formulas and calculation, graph and conceptual explanation at the same time. The studies also showed that fewer students are interested in physics compared to any other sciences. (Ornek, et al 2008) The major general reasons that were reported by William, (2003) for finding physics uninteresting are students have negative feeling towards it and seen as difficult and irrelevant. He also found that certain areas within the physics curriculum are considered to be boring by some students. In addition to that students' difficulties also stem from physics concepts, the way in which physics is taught.

At present, teachers have a general impression that over the period of secondary schooling students may loses or certainly fail to gain an enthusiasm for physics. One of the reasons why students found Physics to be boring is that related to teaching method. The lecture (Traditional approach - Chalk and talk) is one of the oldest forms of education there is. Lecturing has never been an effective teaching technique since information is ubiquitous and found lecturing to be waste of time. Lecturing or traditional approach is way of teaching that did not involve students in creative thinking and participation in interaction in the classroom. This will lead to rote memorization on part of the students as students not taking part in understanding what the teacher taught. In addition to this students became passive as the teacher control the talk in the class. (Khalid 2012)

Listening to someone talking is not an effective way to learn any subjects especially Physics. This teaching style also might affect the attention and concentration span of the students. The communication is mostly one-way communication as learning supposed to be making students active in developing their knowledge as they cannot passively assimilate it. Therefore, teaching technique has to improvise and make student involve in developing their own knowledge. Teachers also need to create a creative classroom environment by using creative teaching aids and lessons plan with the help of technology tools such as computers, IPAD etc.

In the 21st century, the world is becoming more and more technologically oriented. Technology can be used as a teaching technique to strengthen student learning and enhance pedagogy (Dede, 2000) and can be used effectively as a cognitive tool for teaching and learning in the classroom (Bransford, Brown & Cocking, 2000; Bruce & Levin, 2001).

Researchers agree that students using a computer in their learning especially in Physics make greater conceptual gains according to Zacharia and Anderson (2003), and are more capable of integrating knowledge, play an active role in learning than those who use the textbook stated by Fiolhais, (1998) and added by Linn and Hsi (2000) solve additional problems on the topic (Stols, 2010)

These days, numerous information and communication technology (ICT) applications are available to provide students' active engagement such as Simulations, Multimedia, Telematics, Virtual Reality, and Computer Based Labs. For this research, the author will be focusing on one of the ICT tools i.e. implementing Interactive Simulation in Science education particularly in Physics. Simulations have been around practically since the advent of computers, and researchers have been looking at classroom uses of simulations for over 20 years. The definition of Simulation is computer simulations are computer-generated dynamic models that present theoretical or simplified models of real-world components, phenomena, or processes. They can include animations, visualizations, and interactive laboratory experiences. (Smetana, 2000)

Towards the new education system of Brunei SPN21, the government of Negara Brunei Darussalam has invested millions of dollars in bringing ICT into schools and colleges throughout the country. The introduction of computer visualization and a virtual projector in the classroom has essentially raised the standards where visual memory is always better than "textbook-ish" knowledge.

Students attitude towards learning science also become one of the major factor influencing their view on particular subject. According to Hendrickson (1997), attitude is the best predictor to estimate students' performance in their studies. If the students feel positive towards the subject they learned, the more positive their achievement outcome are.

Purpose and Significance of this research

Research on interactive simulation has been done in other countries. Currently this research has not been done in Brunei. Hence, the primary focus of this study is to see the effect of teaching with interactive simulation on upper secondary students taking Physics subjects particularly 'Electrostatic'. The main objective of this research is to investigate the effectiveness of two different instructional approaches (i) teaching with traditional style or (ii) teaching and learning with Interactive simulation on students' achievement on test of electrostatic. The next objective is to compare the effect of (i) teaching with traditional style and (ii) teaching and learning with interactive simulation on students' attitude towards learning science.

The significance of this research is that it can serve as milestone to measure how effective is teaching with interactive simulation in Brunei education system. When SPN21 education system has been introduced, this is to avoid spoon-feeding the students with knowledge. Also in order to achieve the Brunei Darussalam's National Vision 2035, there is a need for future teacher to be more creative in delivering lessons and this will help the students to understand better knowledge in physics.

The study should benefit and provide 'O' level science teachers an insight into how to improve teaching materials in order to make students become interested and enhance understanding about concepts in physics. By using interactive simulation also will help teacher deliver the difficult content of physics more easily and straightforward.

In order to achieve effective teaching, government also need to be well informed based on empirical results findings in order to provide all the needs, teacher can be better prepared for the change in teaching styles. The research findings can also be used by school administration such as principals and head of department to encourage all the fellow teachers to adopt and adapt new teaching styles to replace the traditional teaching method of "chalk and talk" method.

Research Questions

The research study is guided by the following research questions and design. The research questions are as follow:

In order to address the first research objective which is to investigate the effectiveness of two different instructional approaches (i) teaching with traditional style or (ii) teaching and learning with Interactive simulation on students' achievement on test of electrostatic, the following research questions are formulated:

Is there significant effect in students' achievement on Pre and Post tests on electrostatic (i) control group (teaching with traditional style) and (ii) experimental group (teaching and learning with interactive simulation)?

Is there significant difference in students' achievement on Pre and Post tests between control group (teaching with traditional style) and experimental group (teaching and learning with interactive simulation)?

Furthermore, in order to address the second research objective i.e. to compare the effect of control group (teaching with traditional style) and experimental group (teaching and learning with interactive simulation) on students' attitude towards learning Science, the following research questions was formulated:

Is there significant difference in students' attitude before and after teaching for experimental group (teaching and learning with interactive simulation)?

Is there significant difference in students' attitude after teaching between control group (teaching with traditional style) and experimental group (teaching and learning with interactive simulation)?

Definition of terms

Definitions of terms used in this study according to English dictionary:

Attitude refers to habitual ways of reacting to situation. In educational terms, they considered very important as they affect the learning process. (Hills, 1982)

For the purpose of this study, the use of the term attitude will refer to students' feeling towards their learning in Science subjects particularly Physics. How students' attitude will be towards learning Science after being intervene with different instructional approach.

Learning refers to "acquisition of knowledge or skills through experience, practice, study or being taught". (Hornby, 2005)

In this study, the term learning will imply on student acquiring knowledge through their study and experience (with traditional teaching style and learning with Interactive simulation) for school Science related content.

Achievement refers to a thing done successfully with effort, skill, or courage, (Oxford Dictionary, 2012) or the act or process of achieving something. (Hornby 2005)

For this case, the term achievement will explain on whether the students' performance in their learning and understanding improve or not after being intervene with two different instructional approaches i.e. teaching with traditional style and teaching and learning with interactive simulation.

Interactive refers to learning environment where learners are required to interact with one another. (Elliston and Harris 1986). Whereas, simulation refers to any operating i.e. on-going representation of a real system or process most likely to be animate. (Elliston and Harris 1986). If the two words combine they will made up into interactive simulation.

Interactive Simulation refers to technique of representing the real world by a computer program; "a simulation should imitate the internal processes and not merely the results of the thing being simulated" (The free dictionary, 2010)

In this research, the researcher will use the help of interactive simulation to explain the underlying concepts particularly in Electrostatic.

Quasi-experimental design is a type of research design which aims to determine whether a program or intervention has the intended effect on a study's participants. To estimate the effect of a treatment, a researcher must compare the result of groups after treatment was managed with what would have resulted when the treatment has not been administered to the groups. To achieve this, research design need to involve pre&post test design, on an exerimental group and a control group. (Alkin et al. 1992)

Pre&Post test define as where the participants are asked a series of questions at both beginning of the lesson (pre-test) and then again at the lessons' completion (post-test). This design can measured participant knowledge, attitudes or behaviour etc.

So in this research, there will be two sets of pre&post test i.e. in terms of students' achievement and students' attitude towards learning science.

Electrostatic define as study of static charges in a body or material.

Computer Interactive Simulation

For this research studies the author will be using simulation software from PheT website, where this website provide multiple of interactive simulation for all the subjects. Interactive simulations are software that visually represents real world phenomena by making use of models to represent scientific entities. When students view the visual models in the simulation they interpret the images, which allow them to create mental picture to help them understand in their own way the phenomenon that they have been studied. The specific simulation that will be used during this research is the electrostatic balloons model, charges and fields and circuit construction kit which produced by Colorado Physics. The intent of the simulation is that to help teachers to develop critical thinking of the students and their understanding of electrostatic charge by using this simulation.

PhET was developed by a group of researchers from the University of Colorado at Boulder in the USA and is grounded in research on how students learn and their conceptual difficulties and misconceptions. The PhET project's goals are "increased student engagement, improved learning and improved beliefs about and approach toward learning" (Wieman, Perkins & Adams, 2008). The PhET simulations are highly interactive and provide animated feedback to the user. In developing the simulations, researchers made use of "student interviews and classroom testing to explore issues of usability, interpretation and learning" (Wieman et al., 2008). (Interactive Simulation, 2000)

Limitations of study

Although the research has reached its objectives, there were several limitations to this study. The following reasons are:

The study only focuses only one pure science subject i.e. Physics thus cannot be generalized to other subjects.

The study only focuses one government school in Brunei Muara district, therefore cannot be generalized to all schools in Brunei Darussalam

The sample of the study only taking students in upper secondary level thus cannot be generalized to all levels.

Due to limitation of time, the research only conducted on a small size of population. In addition to this, the population of the experimental group is small, might not enough to represent the majority of the students.

The research was conducted for three weeks. Three weeks is actually not enough for the students to get used to new techniques of instructional approach i.e. using interactive simulations.