, Volume 61, Issue 6, pp 979-999
Date: 07 Nov 2013

SciEthics Interactive: science and ethics learning in a virtual environment

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Abstract

Learning in immersive 3D environments allows students to collaborate, build, and interact with difficult course concepts. This case study examines the design and development of the TransGen Island within the SciEthics Interactive project, a National Science Foundation-funded, 3D virtual world emphasizing learning science content in the context of ethical dilemmas. The 2 year development process is examined through the lens of the rapid prototyping instructional design model, following the project from conceptualization to implementation of a 3D simulation. Through expert interviews, focus groups, and working groups, we were able to determine critical scientific and ethical issues to present to learners in the virtual world. We collected data on 53 students using the simulation at universities in the United States and South Africa and evaluated their experience using qualitative and quantitative methods. Results showed that student participants were engaged and motivated by the simulation. The students reported an increase in science knowledge and ethical understanding, but individual experiences varied.