Journal of Science Education and Technology

, Volume 23, Issue 4, pp 481–495

Which Setting to Choose: Comparison of Whole-Class vs. Small-Group Computer Simulation Use



Studies considering whole-class use of computer simulations are limited, despite the increasing interest in this mode of use. The current study explored how a collection of computer simulations was integrated into both whole-class and small-group instructional settings during a high school chemistry unit on atomic structure. Participants included one teacher and all of the students in two of her classes. Descriptive statistics are reported for pre- and post-instruction quantitative assessments of student conceptual understanding. Analytic induction guided analysis of a variety of qualitative data sources, including classroom observations, artifacts and interviews. Findings indicated that, regardless of the setting, computer simulations positively contributed to students’ learning gains. Further, highly collaborative talk, coupled with meaningful teacher–student interactions, was more frequent in the whole-class group. These results suggest that both whole-class and small-group settings are appropriate for using simulations in science. Further, the effective incorporation of simulations into whole-class instruction may provide a solution to the dilemma of technology penetration versus integration in today’s classrooms.


Computer simulations Collaborative learning Chemistry 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of EducationLoyola University ChicagoChicagoUSA
  2. 2.College of EducationOregon State UniversityCorvallisUSA

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