The effect of a computerized simulation on middle school students' understanding of the kinetic molecular theory

The objective of this study was to evaluate the effect of a dynamic software simulation on the understanding of the kinetic molecular theory by 7th graders in science. Students in the control group (n = 62) studied a curricular unit that addressed the differences in arrangement and motion of molecules in the three phases of matter. The experimental group (n = 71) studied the same unit combined with a few computer lessons using a software simulation. The results indicate that the students in the experimental group scored significantly higher than those in the control group. Nonetheless, while both groups of students improved their understanding of the kinetic molecular theory, the overall achievements were very low. These findings suggest that the simulation improved the understanding of the 7th graders; however, it was insufficient in itself to promote meaningful learning. Statistically significant gender differences were not observed. This paper concludes with a discussion of the educational implications of this study.

Stern, L., Barnea, N., & Shauli, S.
Journal of Science Education and Technology, Vol. 17(4), 305-315.
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Content Area: 
Grade Level: 
middle school
IDEA Disability Category: 
emotional disturbance
major-other health impairment
specific learning disability
speech or language impairment
Instructional Support: 
multimedia products and projects
opportunities to learn concepts
visualizations and models
NSTA Content Standards: 
life science
physical science
science & technology
science as inquiry
unifying concepts & processes