The effect of computer simulations on students’ conceptual and procedural understanding of Newton’s second law of motion
This study aims to assess the impact of computer simulations (CSs) within an inquiry-based learning (IBL) environment on grade 11 students’ performance in Newton’s second law of motion (NSLOM). The study sample consisted of 90 male and female students selected from a population of two public schools in Al Ain city in United Arab Emirates (UAE). The study employed a pre- and post-test quasi-experimental design involving four equally distributed grade 11 physics classes: two as experimental groups (EGs) (including 45 CS-bound students studying under scientific inquiry instructions) and the other two as control groups (including 45 CSs-free students studying under traditional face-to-face instructions). Newton’s second law of motion achievement test (NSLMAT) was used to evaluate students’ performance in NSLOM. Descriptive analysis was conducted using effect sizes and a paired-sample t-test. Overall, results suggested that, compared to face-to-face instruction, CSs were more successful in promoting students’ understanding of NSLOM topics. Moreover, EGs showed noticeable conceptual and procedural performance gains. The results indicated that CSs within an IBL environment helped female (d=2.10) and male (d=2.94) students better understand NSLOM conceptual topics. CSs within an IBL environment also helped male (d=0.88) and female (d=0.72) students better understand NSLOM. Finally, if properly designed, CSs within an IBL environment can significantly improve student learning of NSLOM. Therefore, the study recommends creating a supportive learning environment to encourage the use of CSs for purposes other than information presentation. Incorporating simulations into practical activities, problem-solving exercises, or group discussions could improve students’ critical thinking and problem-solving abilities. Allowing students to practice using the simulation before implementing it in actual learning activities is also crucial.
Alsalhi, Najeh Rajeh