Jump to main content
Jump to site search
PLANNED MAINTENANCE Close the message box

Scheduled maintenance work on Wednesday 27th March 2019 from 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM (GMT).

During this time our website performance may be temporarily affected. We apologise for any inconvenience this might cause and thank you for your patience.

Issue 4, 2014
Previous Article Next Article

How guidance affects student engagement with an interactive simulation

Author affiliations


We studied how students engaged with an interactive simulation in a classroom setting and how that engagement was affected by the design of a guiding activity. Students (n = 210) completed a written activity using an interactive simulation in second semester undergraduate general chemistry recitations. The same simulation – PhET Interactive Simulations' Acid–Base Solutions – was used with three written activities, designated as Heavy Guidance (HG), Moderate Guidance (MG), or Light Guidance (LG). We collected mouse click data and classroom field notes to assess student engagement with each type of activity. Simulation features were characterized as “prompted” or “exploratory” based on the presence or absence of explicit guidance in the written activity to use that feature. While students in every condition were engaged with the simulation and their activity, student interaction with “exploratory” features decreased significantly when more guidance was provided (LG = 85%, MG = 68%, HG = 9%, p < 0.0005). Lighter guidance groups explored more and attended to their simulation interactions, indicated by a redraw task in the week after use. These results indicate that activity design – in terms of guidance level – can strongly influence student exploration with an interactive simulation. We discuss the implications of these results for the design of activities to accompany simulations, including how to increase student practice in scientific inquiry.

Back to tab navigation

Supplementary files

Publication details

The article was received on 06 Jan 2014, accepted on 17 Jun 2014 and first published on 18 Jun 2014

Article type: Paper
DOI: 10.1039/C4RP00009A
Citation: Chem. Educ. Res. Pract., 2014,15, 628-638

  •   Request permissions

    How guidance affects student engagement with an interactive simulation

    J. M. Chamberlain, K. Lancaster, R. Parson and K. K. Perkins, Chem. Educ. Res. Pract., 2014, 15, 628
    DOI: 10.1039/C4RP00009A

Search articles by author