Encyclopedia of Science Education

Living Edition
| Editors: Richard Gunstone


  • Janice GobertEmail author
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-007-6165-0_55-3


Simulation; Virtual lab

The term microworld was first introduced by Seymour Papert as part of the pedagogical philosophy of constructionism. To Papert, a microworld is a “…subset[s] of reality or a constructed reality so … as to allow a human learner to exercise particular powerful ideas or intellectual skills” (Papert 1980, p. 204). In this definition, microworlds are very open-ended in pedagogical style. Typically, microworlds are models of scientific or social phenomena that represent the domain-specific properties and conceptual representations of the phenomena of interest, thereby providing perceptual affordances and conceptual levers to the learner.

The degree of structure used to guide students’ activities in learning environments, particularly those involving microworlds, is a topic that has been debated in science education, where some have encouraged open-ended exploration by students (as does Papert), and others have offered guidance or structure within the...


Science Education Data Mining Technique Pedagogical Style Inquiry Skill Effective Monitoring 
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  1. Gobert J, Sao Pedro M, Raziuddin J, Baker RS (2013) From log files to assessment metrics for science inquiry using educational data mining. J Learn Sci 22(4), 521–563Google Scholar
  2. Papert S (1980) Computer-based microworlds as incubators for powerful ideas. In: Taylor R (ed) The computer in the school: tutor, tool, tutee. Teacher’s College Press, New York, pp 203–201Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Social Sciences and Policy Studies Department, Learning Sciences Graduate ProgramWorcester Polytechnic InstituteWorcesterUSA