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Learning and Instruction with Computer Simulations: Learning Processes Involved

  • Ton de Jong
  • Melanie Njoo
Part of the NATO ASI Series book series (volume 84)

Abstract

Nowadays prevalent learning theories state that in the study process the learner is actively involved in constructing and reconstructing his/her knowledge base. This conclusion is reflected in modern approaches to teaching that have abandoned viewing the learner as an ‘empty box’ into which knowledge could be poured, and stress the active role of the learner and the importance of his/her foreknowledge. Some forms of Computer Assisted Instruction are well suited for this teaching approach. The use of hypertext-like systems, in which learners are encouraged to explore a domain, is such an example. A second example of CAI that elicits exploratory behaviour is simulation-based learning.

It is, however, also evident that exploratory learning puts a high cognitive demand on the learner. Instructional support is needed if learning from simulations is to be effective. In practice this support is often provided by human tutors. The topic of the SIMULATE project is to investigate how this support can be given by a computer learning environment. We have termed environments that combine a simulation with (intelligent) support: Intelligent Simulation Learning Environments (ISLEs).

In our analysis we identified four characteristics of instructional use of simulations: presence of (simulation) models, presence of instructional goals, elicitation of exploratory learning processes and possibility of learner activity. The significance of these characteristics for designing an Intelligent Simulation Learning Environment is assessed by combining these characteristics with the four ‘classical’ design components of Intelligent Tutoring Systems: the domain, learner, instruction, and learner interface component. Combining components and characteristics leads to a descriptive framework in which ingredients necessary for ISLEs can be placed. The present chapter summarises these findings and puts an emphasis on ‘exploratory learning processes’.

Keywords

Exploratory learning computer simulations learning processes 

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ton de Jong
    • 1
    • 2
  • Melanie Njoo
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Philosophy and Social SciencesEindhoven University of TechnologyEindhovenThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Department of Social Science InformaticsUniversity of AmsterdamAmsterdamThe Netherlands

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