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The Transparency Paradox: Computational Simulations as Learning Tools for Engineering Graduate Education

By Alejandra J. Magana1, Sean Brophy1, George Bodner1

1. Purdue University



Published on


Computational simulations have become a critical part of computational science, which is being described as the third leg in this century’s methodologies of science. Computational simulations have also become a critical element of learning experiences as they can provide engineering students with the ability to do things that they could not do in the real world. This study explores engineering graduate students’ perceptions related to aspects associated to the transparency of the simulation tools. The results of this study show that most of the students interviewed found using computational simulations as useful for their learning. However, a transparency paradox was identified. A proposed solution to the transparency paradox may be the implementation of scaffolds together with three different levels of transparency.

Sponsored by

Network for Computational Nanotechnology


Magana, A.J., Brophy, S. and Bodner G. (2010). The transparency paradox: computational simulations as learning tools for engineering graduate education. Presentation at the Annual AERA Meeting: Understanding complex Ecologies in a Changing World. April 30-May 4. Denver, Colorado.

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Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  • Alejandra J. Magana; Sean Brophy; George Bodner (2010), "The Transparency Paradox: Computational Simulations as Learning Tools for Engineering Graduate Education,"

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