Simulation-Based Inquiry Learning and Computer Modeling: Pitfalls and Potentials

Yvonne G. Mulder*, Ard W. Lazonder, Ton de Jong

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)
7 Downloads (Pure)


Background. Inquiry learning environments increasingly incorporate simulation and modeling facilities. Students acquire knowledge through systematic experimentation with the simulations and express that knowledge in runnable computer models. Aim. As inquiry and modeling activities are new and demanding for students, support for learning is needed. This article reports three experimental studies that examine how students’ inquiry and modeling activities can be supported. Need for support. Study 1 was an empirical assessment of students’ support needs. It compared a group of domain novices to two more knowledgeable reference groups in order to determine the novices’ support needs. Model progression and worked examples. In Studies 2 and 3, the need for support was addressed by model progression (gradually increasing task complexity) and worked-out examples, examining the effect of those interventions on students’ performance and learning. Results suggest positive effects due to both increasing model complexity and providing worked examples that show what the activities in each model progression phase entail and how they should be performed. Implications. The pattern of results across the three studies are discussed with regard to students’ use of available resources, influence of prior knowledge, and the relationship between performance and learning.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)322-347
Number of pages26
JournalSimulation & gaming
Issue number3-4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2015


  • Inquiry learning
  • Learning environments
  • Model progression
  • Model-based learning
  • Problem solving
  • Scaffolding
  • Science education
  • Simulation-based learning
  • System dynamics
  • Worked-out examples
  • 2023 OA procedure


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