The Impact of Interactive Computer Simulations on the Nature and Quality of Postgraduate Science Teachers' Explanations in Physics
AuthorZacharia, Zacharias C.
PublisherInternational Journal of Science Education
SourceInternational Journal of Science Education
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This study investigated how individuals' construction of explanations--a way of ascertaining how well an individual understands a concept--develops from an interactive simulation. Specifically, the purpose was to investigate the effect of interactive computer simulations or science textbook assignments on the nature and quality of postgraduate science teachers' explanations regarding physical phenomena in Mechanics, Waves/Optics, and Thermal Physics. The use of simulations or science textbook assignments was implemented according to the Predict-Observe-Explain model and integrated into a one-semester conceptual survey course in physics for practising science teachers who served as participants in the study. Data were collected through semi-structured interviews and were analysed using a qualitative content analysis approach. Results indicate that the use of computer simulations along with the application of the Predict-Observe-Explain model had a positive impact on the nature and quality of science teachers' explanations. They improved science teachers' ability to generate scientifically accurate explanations and fostered in-depth advancement in teachers' search for explanatory scientific information regarding the physical phenomena under investigation. In addition, teachers' explanations became more elaborate, reflecting cause-effect reasoning and formal reasoning.