Journal of Science Education and Technology

, Volume 26, Issue 4, pp 359–371 | Cite as

Students’ Independent Use of Screencasts and Simulations to Construct Understanding of Solubility Concepts

  • Deborah G. HerringtonEmail author
  • Ryan D. Sweeder
  • Jessica R. VandenPlas


As students increasingly use online chemistry animations and simulations, it is becoming more important to understand how students independently engage with such materials and to develop a set of best practices for students’ use of these resources outside of the classroom. Most of the literature examining students’ use of animations and simulations has focused on classroom use with some studies suggesting that better outcomes are obtained when students use simulations with minimal guidance while others indicate the need for appropriate scaffolding. This study examined differences with respect to (1) student understanding of the concept of dissolution of ionic and covalent compounds in water and (2) student use of electronic resources when students were asked to complete an assignment either by manipulating a simulation on their own or by watching a screencast in which an expert manipulated the same simulation. Comparison of students’ pre- and posttest scores, answers to assignment questions, near-transfer follow-up questions, and eye-tracking analysis suggested that students who viewed the screencast gained a better understanding of the dissolving process, including interactions with water at the particulate level, particularly for covalent compounds. Additionally, the eye tracking indicated that there were significant differences in the ways that the different treatment groups (screencast or simulation) used the electronic resources.


Simulation Screencast General chemistry Solubility Eye tracking 



The authors would like to recognize contributions to this work by Dena Warren, Karli Gormley, Marissa Biesbrock, Kristina Pacelli, Stephanie Lerchenfelt, and Treyce Sanderson. Ryan Sweeder would also like to thank the Lyman Briggs Trajectory Fund for financial support for this work.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

This study has been approved as exempt by the GVSU and MSU Institutional Review Boards: Exempt Reference no. GVSU: 15-079-H and 16-012-H; MSU: x15-775e.

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki Declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Deborah G. Herrington
    • 1
    Email author
  • Ryan D. Sweeder
    • 2
  • Jessica R. VandenPlas
    • 1
  1. 1.Grand Valley State UniversityAllendaleUSA
  2. 2.Lyman Briggs CollegeMichigan State UniversityEast LansingUSA

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