domingo, 25 de enero de 2009

Constructivism in practice: virtual worlds

University of Washington



by Kimberley M. Osberg

Chairperson of the Supervisory Committee: Professor William Winn

Department of Education

This study compares the educational value of constructivist pedagogy as applied through the design, development and experience of 3-D interactive virtual learning environments to a traditional classroom approach and to a no instruction control. The constructivist treatment provided students with access to their choice of source content, 3-D modeling tools and instruction in virtual world development to assist in developing visual, auditory and interactive signs and symbols in the virtual environment. Traditional instruction included a biology textbook, worksheets and teacher-led discussions. Subjects were 117 7th and 8th grade students in a constructivist classroom studying wetland ecology. Students were separated into four groups each of which were responsible for designing and building a virtual learning environment. Content acquisition and meaning-making was measured by a multiple choice, quantitative pre- and post-test, concept map pre- and post-tests, interviews and a survey. Results indicate significant improvement between both quantitative F(1, 79) = 97.58, p < .001 and concept map F(1, 63) = 71.75, (p < .001) pre- and post-test measures. However, treatment analysis yeilded no significant difference between the Constructivist and Traditional treatments, a significant pre-post treatment interaction between Constructivist and the No Instruction control F(1, 23) = 18.25, (p < .001), and no significant difference between the Traditional and No Instruction approach. Interview data comparing built vs. experienced worlds yeilded a significant difference F(1, 65) = 14.68, (p < .001). Subsequent research is presented in an Addendum that indicates that virtual world building is both motivational and educationally efficacious.

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