Using heuristics to facilitate experiental learning in a simulation-based discovery learning environment.

K.H. Veermans, L. Mason (Editor), Ton de Jong, S. Andreuzza (Editor), B. Arfè (Editor), Wouter van Joolingen, L. del Favero (Editor)

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


Learners are often reported to experience difficulties with simulation-based discovery learning. Heuristics for discovery learning (rules of thumb that guide decision-making) can help learners to overcome these difficulties. In addition, the heuristics themselves are open for transfer. One way to include heuristics in a discovery learning environment is to incorporate them implicitly, i.e. building in the decisions that can be derived from the heuristics. While this supports learning domain knowledge, it doesn’t necessarily elicit the experiential learning needed for transfer. Communicating the heuristics explicitly in addition to the implicit heuristic support is more likely to trigger reflection on and conceptualization of the heuristics, and potentially transfer to other situations. In an experimental study these two ways of including heuristic support were compared in terms of their impact on the learning process, and learning outcomes. The domain to be learned was from physics, the learning environment was a simulation based discovery environment. The results showed considerable domain knowledge gains in both conditions from pre- to post-test, but no differences between conditions. Differences were found with respect to the learning process. Especially at the beginning, learners in the explicit heuristics condition exhibited more self-regulatory behavior, which is an indication of experiential learning. It seems these learners reflected on the heuristics, made their own conceptualizations, and based their decisions on these conceptualizations. Including heuristics explicitly in discovery learning environments seems a promising approach to elicit experiential learning that deserves further exploration.
Original languageUndefined
Publication statusPublished - 26 Aug 2003
Event10th Biennial Conference of the European Association for Research in Learning and Instruction (EARLI) 2003 - Padova, Italy
Duration: 26 Aug 200330 Aug 2003
Conference number: 10 (European Association for Research on Learning and Instruction (EARLI))


Conference10th Biennial Conference of the European Association for Research in Learning and Instruction (EARLI) 2003
Abbreviated titleEARLI
Internet address


  • METIS-215636
  • IR-46619

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