Teaching physics with interactive computer simulation at secondary level

Nadia Rehman, Wanlan Zhang, Amir Mahmood, Faiz Alam


Early research investigated the students understanding of science concepts using physical equipment, such as visiting labs and performing experiments but due to the advancement of new technology, students now can learn complex science concepts through advanced means, such as iPad, smart books and simulations. In Pakistan, interactive computer simulation program is rarely used for teaching at the early ages. The aim of the present study is to evaluate the effectiveness of the interactive computer simulation program PhET to teach weight and mass concepts to high school students. Quasi-experimental design was used to study the effect of the interactive computer simulation on students’ physics concepts. Study also explored the student’s engagement with simulation to exercise high order thinking skills. The experimental group was taught with the interactive computer simulation program, and the control group was taught with traditional teaching method. There were five lessons each week, and the program was used for a month. Pre- and post-tests were designed for both experimental and control groups. Independent sample t-tests showed that the difference was significant between the mean scores of the experimental and control groups after the experiment (p<0.001). The paired sample t-test showed that there was a significant difference in the mean scores of pre- and post-test of the experimental group (p<0.01). The effect size, 0.97 was also found to determine the magnitude of the difference through Pearson’s correlation coefficient r, and a very large effect was identified. Apart from the quantitative data, interviews with teachers and focus group discussions were held to learn the teachers’ and students’ views. The qualitative data concluded that students showed an interest in using simulation, teachers and students appreciated the simulation program for teaching complex physics concepts. The results provided a case for using Information communication technology to improve students’ physics learning. Information communication technology is intended to reduce the culture of rote memorization among students.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.14571/brajets.v14.n1.127-141

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