This feature allows students to select (from a drop down list) which of several investigation questions students wish to investigate with a particular experimental trial. In its current implementation, students MUST select one of three investigation questions before choosing numerical values for three variables that correspond to the questions.
The Rationale Behind the Feature (Specific Design Principle):
Inquiry is complex and can be difficult for students. Rather than asking students to design their own investigation questions, this feature provides a set of investigation questions for students to choose from. The feature design still allows the students to explore the visualization using their own individual initiative by discussing how the simulation variables map onto the investigation questions. The feature also encourages students to have a specific goal in mind when conducting experimental trials, rather than experimenting haphazardly.
Context of Use:
This feature is part of a visualization within a TELS project called Airbags: Too Fast, Too Furious?
Analyses taking advantage of log files from students experimentation show that students who are better able to connect investigation questions to variables also learn more from the visualization. This feature scaffolds these connections.
McElhaney, K.W. & Linn, M.C. (2008). Impacts of students experimentation using a dynamic visualization on their understanding of motion. International Perspectives in the Learning Sciences: Cre8ting a Learning World. Proceedings of the 8th International Conference of the Learning Sciences. International Society of the Learning Sciences Inc., Utrecht, The Netherlands.