1. Barbara Buckley
  2. PI
  3. SimScientists Human Body Systems
  4. http://simscientists.org
  5. WestEd
  1. Daniel Brenner
  2. Co-PI
  3. SimScientists Human Body Systems
  4. http://simscientists.org
  5. WestEd
  1. Andrew Grillo-Hill
  2. Co-PI
  3. SimScientists Human Body Systems
  4. http://simscientists.org
  5. WestEd
Public Discussion
  • Icon for: Kevin Brown

    Kevin Brown

    Facilitator
    May 11, 2015 | 09:17 a.m.

    This is so timely as my son is just studying the cell in his 7th grade science class! It is very textbook based, so I can see great value here particularly in raising student “engagement” with the material and creating system-based, nested mental models of the biology of organisms. My question is: to what extent can these modules (I’ve been looking at the Ecosystem module) be “independent study” and to what extent do they need to be “scaffolded”? Also, have the other topics on Simscientists been evaluated against standard classroom instruction?

  • Icon for: Barbara Buckley

    Barbara Buckley

    Presenter
    May 14, 2015 | 08:22 p.m.

    My grandson has found it useful, although he wasn’t sure what a molecule was. SimScientists modules are intended as instructional or assessment materials to supplement rather than replace classroom instruction. Within the modules we scaffold students’ interactions with multiple linked representations and models of systems that are critical to understanding and building models of the topic or concept. SimScientist modules also provide reports to students and teachers that identify concepts or science practices that need additional study or instruction. So SimScientists modules could be assigned as homework or as part of independent study, but students would benefit from follow-up discussion, review, or extension activities.
    SimScientists Ecosystems and Force and Motion, both for middle school students, have been studied in comparison to traditional classroom instruction. Check for publications at simscientists.org. Thank you!

  • Icon for: Joni Falk

    Joni Falk

    Facilitator
    May 11, 2015 | 03:37 p.m.

    Really interesting work. Thanks!!! The video gave me a sense for what the students see and do and I can see how this helps students develop mental models. Would have loved to hear from students and teacher in the video? Do students enjoy it? Do they do this as part of class or at home? How many schools are currently using it? Would love to hear what you learn from the randomized trials that you are doing now. Will you have the opportunity to make changes in a new module?

  • Icon for: Barbara Buckley

    Barbara Buckley

    Presenter
    May 12, 2015 | 09:11 p.m.

    Thank you! Most teachers and students do enjoy using SimScientists Human Body Systems, but collecting videos of student use is beyond our IRB-approved protocol. In our research project students use HBS in computer labs or classrooms as part of a class. Because their work in the instructional modules and benchmark assessment is captured and analyzed by the Learning Management System(LMS), students with computer access at home or in the library could use the instructional modules outside of class. The LMS produces reports for students and teachers in order to inform review and extension activities.
    HBS modules are in currently in use in 34 high schools across the country, with ~2000 students randomnly assigned by class into treatment and control groups. Students in the control group receive traditional classroom instruction, but can then access the instructional modules after they had taken the post test and benchmark assessment. We will be analyzing data this summer, so stay tuned for the results! Unfortunately, in this project we will not have an opportunity to make further revisions of the current modules, which have been through one cycle of classroom testing and revision during pilot tests. We are exploring opportunities to make revised HBS modules more widely available after the project has ended.
    Thank you for your interest!

  • Icon for: Deborah Kariuki

    Deborah Kariuki

    Facilitator
    May 13, 2015 | 01:01 a.m.

    You team has come up with a very innovative way of helping students retain more material of what they have studied about the human body. It was somehow socking to hear only 10% students go beyond memorization of material. I wonder how you came up with that number and how have teachers and other interested steakholders reacted to this. I would imagine if more educators were aware of this they would want to be involved in a project like the HBS modules that are interactive and hands on for students. In regarding areas where students do not have access to computers in classrooms for learning how else would implement this system for it to be useful to more students regardless of the technology available at home or at school. It is crucial that innovative learning tools take into account what is involved in most schools across this country so that we don’t continue to have inequitable education access. Nevertheless, this is a very powerful way of teaching Human body science systems and I am sure students who are able to access it would be highly empowered in learning and retaining the material

  • Icon for: Barbara Buckley

    Barbara Buckley

    Presenter
    May 14, 2015 | 08:24 p.m.

    Hi Deborah,
    That 10% figure is somewhat of a dramatization. Based on research I conducted for my dissertation and readings elsewhere, a more accurate statement is that approximately 5-10% of students build working mental models of human body systems. Some students build some models of some processes, but putting it all together into nested systems is relatively uncommon. The students who put it together are the ones who go on to study more biology than students who memorize – a testable hypothesis, but beyond the scope of this project.

    I totally agree that we need to strive for equitable access to technology-based resources like HBS. There are many free web-based resources that illustrate the dynamic phenomena of the human body. Making sense of what you’re seeing is dependent on the knowledge you bring to the material. One approach that helps guide intentional model-building learners is to pose the questions, "What are the parts of the system? How do they work together to accomplish the function of the system? These questions can be pursued in hands-on activities, observations, and with any resources that depict the functioning of the human body.
    Thank you for your interest!

  • Icon for: Deborah Kariuki

    Deborah Kariuki

    Facilitator
    May 15, 2015 | 08:56 p.m.

    Thanks Barbara for your reply. You work is ripe for expansion across the country and it will certainly be very useful in helping students learn HBS. Thanks for the great work you team did.

  • Further posting is closed as the showcase has ended.