Framework for Evaluating Simulations: Analysis of Student Developed Interactive Computer Tools

Download (PDF)

Licensed according to this deed.



Published on


Computer simulations are discussed in the learning environment from two major perspectives: 1) teaching students how to build simulations and 2) developing simulations to teach students targeted concepts. This study is approaching learning with simulations from a different perspective. We are interested in how students’ understandings of simulations develop through an iterative design challenge that requires them to create their own simulations. We investigated what first-year engineering students develop as simulations in an open-ended learning environment. The resulting framework consisted of four levels. Level 1 involves only basic interactions. Level 2 consists of a basic input to output system, referred to as a black-box model. Level 3 is an animation of a simulation; it has the model and visualization components of a simulation, but is lacking interactivity (or user choice). Level 4 is a simulation; it consists of a model, visualization of the model, and interactivity. Based on this framework and the findings, this paper proposes a method for scaffolding student learning through an open-ended simulation development challenge.

Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  • Kelsey Joy Rodgers, Heidi A Diefes-Dux, Krishna Madhavan (2014), "Framework for Evaluating Simulations: Analysis of Student Developed Interactive Computer Tools,"

    BibTex | EndNote