Journal of Science Education and Technology

, Volume 27, Issue 6, pp 550–565 | Cite as

How Do Secondary Science Teachers Perceive the Use of Interactive Simulations? The Affordance in Singapore Context

  • Wenjin Vikki Bo
  • Gavin W. FulmerEmail author
  • Christine Kim-Eng Lee
  • Victor Der-Thanq Chen


Research has shown that teaching science with a modeling-oriented approach, particularly with interactive simulations, will promote student engagement and understanding. To date, many interactive simulations have been developed and adopted for classroom practices. The purpose of this study was to explore secondary school science teachers’ perceived affordance of interactive simulation as well as their practical experience with simulation implementation in class. Twelve science teachers from seven schools were interviewed individually and the data was triangulated with their teaching plans and student assignments. Their past experiences of simulation implementation revealed that most teachers adopted simulations for demonstration purpose in teacher-led instruction. Their attempts to provide students opportunities to use the simulations to explore alternative modeling by themselves did not seem to work well. There are various reasons for this, such as the shortage of facilities, Internet bandwidth, and technological knowledge. There was also a pressing need for teachers to complete the required syllabus in limited classroom time. The majority of teachers’ future intent to use simulation in class was quite weak, especially with the less proficient students who had some difficulty understanding simulations. Although interactive simulations have great potential to promote students’ understanding in abstract science concepts, overcoming the difficulties of implementation may require other alternatives such as a flipped classroom approach. Future studies can investigate how to design learning activities outside class, to engage students in exploring modeling in simulations.


Interactive simulations Technology implementation Science education Modeling-oriented instruction 



This study was funded by the Education Research Funding Programme, National Institute of Education (NIE), Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, project number OER 10/15 GWF. The views expressed in this paper are the authors’ and do not necessarily represent the views of NIE. We thank the anonymous reviewers for their input and the support of participating teachers and project collaborator Mr. Wee Loo Kang from the Ministry of Education.


This study was funded by the NIE’s Education Research Funding Programme (project number OER 10/15 GWF).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Ethical Approval

All procedures involving human participants were approved by and conducted in accordance with the ethical standards of the Nanyang Technological University Institutional Review Board (NTU/IRB), and consistent with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.


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© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Singapore University of Social SciencesSingaporeSingapore
  2. 2.Department of Teaching & LearningUniversity of IowaIowa CityUSA
  3. 3.National Institute of EducationSingaporeSingapore

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