Evaluating the effects of a new qualitative simulation software (DynaLearn) on learning behavior, factual and causal understanding


Andreas Zitek, Michaela Poppe, Michael Stelzhammer, Susanne Muhar and Bert Bredeweg

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The DynaLearn software, a new intelligent learning environment aimed at supporting a better conceptual and causal understanding of environmental sciences was evaluated. The main goals of these pilot evaluations were to provide information on (1) usability of the software and problems learners encountered, (2) the appreciation of the software, and (3) changes in knowledge and knowledge structure influenced by the activities with DynaLearn. Data were gathered from video analysis, pre-and posttests, and motivation questionnaires. The modeling behavior changed significantly along the use of the different Learning Spaces. Increased causal understanding was documented by an increase of the number of causal expressions from pre- to posttest situation, as well as a significant increase in the degree of abstraction and decrease of wrong causal relations. The results underpin the potential of DynaLearn to support causal and systems based learning in individual and collaborative settings, but also the need for providing additional support and motivating features.


DynaLearn, causal reasoning, modeling, knowledge abstraction, qualitative reasoning, environmental education, evaluation