Date of Award

5-1-2011

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

Curriculum and Instruction

First Advisor

Fadde, Peter

Second Advisor

Shrock, Sharon

Abstract

Thanks to different multimedia authoring tools and specialized software that facilitate the design and development of computer-based simulations, science teachers and instructional media designers have a variety of simulations to support instructional delivery. However, there is a lack of research on how instructional designers and science teachers can select, design, and implement science simulations most effectively based on the simulations' visual attributes. One of the design principles that play an important part in the simulation design process is the visual representation of on-screen objects used to describe science concepts or principles. The purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of abstract and concrete visual representation of electricity concepts and principles in an instructional simulation on students' declarative knowledge, learning transfer, and perceptions of the simulation. The participants in this study were 39 elementary education pre-service teachers who were randomly assigned to either the concrete or the abstract treatment. The educational intervention was conducted over three 100-minute sessions. Since the sample violated the normality assumption, Mann-Whitney tests were conducted to verify whether the independent variable had significant effects on the three dependent variables. The data analysis found no statistically significant difference on learners' declarative knowledge, learning transfer, and perceptions about the simulation's attributes between those assigned to the concrete treatment and those assigned to the abstract treatment (p>.05). This finding did not favor one type of visual representation over the other.

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