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  • A simulation is an imitation of some real device, state of affairs or process. Simulation attempts to represent certain features of the behavior of a physical or abstract system by the behavior of another system (Wikipedia:Simulation)
  • Most often, simulations are fully or partially implemented with a software program that allows the user to learn something about a given object of interest by "playing" with parameters of a model ("What happens if I do this" ? ... and later, "why did this happen ?").

According to Mergendoller et al. (2004): Randel, Morris, Wetzel, and Whitehill (1992) examined 68 studies on the effectiveness of simulations and found that students engaged in simulations and games show greater content retention over time compared to students engaged in conventional classroom instruction.

Simulation types:

In some pedagogical scenarios, learners have to build their own simulation with modeling software. Of course, some microworlds also have students model.

On modeling

Simulations require modeling, i.e. identifying concepts and rules of a physical system or a complex concept.

“We define a scientific model as a representation that abstracts and simplifies a system by focusing on key features to explain and predict scientific phenomena.” (Schwarz et al 2009: 633)


  • Resources for Higher Education. Includes Virtual Worlds large scale resources that will challenge first year economics undergraduates. The Virtual Learning Arcade encompasses a series of simulations, such as the inter-relationships between markets, and the Virtual Farm game, where students can run a business over a ten year period. (not test - DKS).


  • Gibbons Andrew S., Jon Nelson and Rober Richards, The Architecture of Instructional Simulation: A Design for Tool Construction, Technical Report produced for the Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory (INEEL). PDF, retrieved 14:41, 18 October 2006 (MEST).
  • Gokhale, Anu A. (1996), Effectiveness of Computer Simulation for Enhancing Higher Order Thinking, Journal of Industrial Teacher Education, Volume 33, Number 4. HTML.
  • Mergendoller, J., Markham, T., Ravitz, J. & Larmer, J. (2004). Standards-Focused Project Based Learning: An Online Teacher Preparation Program and Website. In C. Crawford et al. (Eds.), Proceedings of Society for Information Technology and Teacher Education International Conference 2004 (pp. 2495-2500). Chesapeake, VA: AACE. [1]
  • Randel, J.M., Morris, B.A., Wetzel, C.D. & Whitehill, B.V. (1992). The effectiveness of games for educational purposes: A review of the research. Simulation and Gaming, 25, 261-276.
  • Repenning, A. and A. Ioannidou 2005. Mr. Vetro: A Collective Simulation Framework. ED-Media 2005, World Conference on Educational Multimedia, Hypermedia & Telecommunications, Montreal, Canada, Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education. PDF
  • Repenning, A., Ioannidou, A., & Zola, J. (2000). AgentSheets: End-User Programmable Simulations. Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation, 3(3) HTML
  • Rieber,Lloyd, Seriously considering play: Designing interactive learning environments based on the blending of microworlds, simulations, and games, Educational Technology Research and Development, 44, 2, 6/18/1996, Pages 43-58, DOI 10.1007/BF02300540 - PDF (Access restricted)
  • Schwarz, C. V., Reiser, B. J., Davis, E. A., Kenyon, L., Achér, A., Fortus, D. ... Krajcik, J. (2009). Developing a learning progression for scientific modeling: Making scientific modeling accessible and meaningful for learners. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 46(6), 632-654.
  • Windschitl,Mark, Supporting the development of science inquiry skills with special classes of software, Educational Technology Research and Development, 48, 2, 6/28/2000, Pages 81-95, DOI 10.1007/BF02313402 - PDF (Access restricted)
  • Mayer,Igor, de Jong,Martin, Combining GDSS and Gaming for Decision Support, Group Decision and Negotiation, 13, 3, 5/7/2004, Pages 223-241, PDF Reprint--------

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