SimScientists Human Body Systems: Using Simulations to Foster Integrated Understanding of Complex, Dynamic, Interactive Systems
National Science Foundation
The SimScientists Human Body Systems (HBS) project at WestEd is developing a suite of simulation-based curricular modules for high school science.
These supplementary modules will enable students to integrate their knowledge of the human body through developing and using models to investigate the interactions of molecules, cells, and organs involved in obtaining and using building materials and energy.
Pilot testing in classrooms and expert reviews will inform iterative revisions. In the final phase of the study, researchers will test the effectiveness of the modules on student understanding of core ideas and science practices.
This research study will address the following questions:
- Usability: Are the HBS modules usable by students and teachers?
- Use: Are the HBS modules used as intended in typical high school settings?
- Efficacy: Does the use of HBS improve learning of key science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) content?
In Phase 1, WestEd researchers will employ evidence-centered design in an iterative approach to designing, developing, and testing the modules. This will include domain analysis, alignment to national standards, creation of design documents, programming of the modules, testing, and revisions.
In Phase 2, we will pilot test the modules in the classrooms of six teachers with approximately 300 students. Data collected during the classroom pilots will inform any necessary revisions.
In Phase 3, WestEd researchers will work with Gargani + Company, external evaluators, to conduct a rigorous efficacy study of the modules. The data for the evaluation will come from six sources — surveys, interviews, classroom observations, achievement tests, and electronic usage logs.
The evaluation of HBS will culminate in a small, two-level randomized efficacy study in which teachers will be randomly assigned to use either HBS in their classroom (treatment) or their existing instructional approach (control).
Key FindingsStudy results will be available following the 2014 study completion date.