Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Interactive animations give science students a boost

Date:
January 8, 2010
Source:
University of Wisconsin-Madison
Summary:
For a generation of students raised and nurtured at the computer keyboard, it seems like a no-brainer that computer-assisted learning would have a prominent role in the college science classroom. But many difficult scientific concepts are still conveyed through dry lectures or ponderous texts. But that could change if science professors take a cue from a new study on the use of interactive animations in the college science classroom.

The screen capture above shows the Crisis in the Air challenge, which puts the student in the position of a co-pilot who needs to assess jet streams, water vapor imagery and computer models while trying to make a decision about an emergency landing.
Credit: Image courtesy of University of Wisconsin-Madison

For a generation of students raised and nurtured at the computer keyboard, it seems like a no-brainer that computer-assisted learning would have a prominent role in the college science classroom.

But many difficult scientific concepts are still conveyed through dry lectures or ponderous texts. But that could change if science professors take a cue from a new study on the use of interactive animations in the college science classroom. The findings, presented at the fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union, show that university students who supplement their studies with interactive, game like computer animations retain a much better understanding of a scientific concept than those who don't.

"It works, which is a bit of a surprise," says Steve Ackerman, a University of Wisconsin-Madison professor of atmospheric and oceanic sciences who led the new study. "We didn't expect this kind of impact on the understanding of fundamental concepts."

Ackerman and UW-Madison graduate student Tim Wagner conducted the study using an introductory meteorology course of 400 students as a crucible for testing the efficacy of short animations that can demonstrate such things as tracking hurricanes and ice bergs, heat transfer, and how rain or snow form in the atmosphere.

The animations, which in actuality are small computer programs called applets, can be manipulated by students to adjust real-world variables that may come into play. For example, in the case of precipitation formation, such things as temperature or altitude can be tweaked to change rain to sleet or snow.

Seeing how the different variables come into play and how changing them can alter the type of precipitation you get is a hard demonstration of the physics of weather, says Wagner.

"Meteorological education is sometimes a little tricky," Wagner explains. "There are not a lot of things you can demonstrate in front of the classroom."

The animations reside on a Web site, and visits by individual students are recorded. Some animations are required for homework while others are optional. Class instructors can look at the Web site visitor data and can see which students are using the programs and for how long.

At exam time, the students who used the animations demonstrated greater mastery of concepts included on the test.

"The students who used the applets performed much better on those questions," notes Wagner.

The new findings by Wagner and Ackerman are important because they begin to inform the use of interactive teaching materials in the science classroom and how teachers can take better advantage of their students' deep familiarity with computers and computer games.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Wisconsin-Madison. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Wisconsin-Madison. "Interactive animations give science students a boost." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 8 January 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/12/091214121432.htm>.
University of Wisconsin-Madison. (2010, January 8). Interactive animations give science students a boost. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/12/091214121432.htm
University of Wisconsin-Madison. "Interactive animations give science students a boost." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/12/091214121432.htm (accessed July 25, 2014).

Share This




More Computers & Math News

Friday, July 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Mobile App Gives Tour of Battle of Atlanta Sites

Mobile App Gives Tour of Battle of Atlanta Sites

AP (July 25, 2014) Emory University's Center for Digital Scholarship has launched a self-guided mobile tour app to coincide with the 150th anniversary of the Civil War's Battle of Atlanta. (July 25) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Bill Gates: Health, Agriculture Key to Africa's Development

Bill Gates: Health, Agriculture Key to Africa's Development

AFP (July 24, 2014) Health and agriculture development are key if African countries are to overcome poverty and grow, US software billionaire Bill Gates said Thursday, as he received an honourary degree in Ethiopia. Duration: 00:36 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Creative Makeovers for Ugly Cellphone Towers

Creative Makeovers for Ugly Cellphone Towers

AP (July 24, 2014) Mobile phone companies and communities across the country are going to new lengths to disguise those unsightly cellphone towers. From a church bell tower to a flagpole, even a pencil, some towers are trying to make a point. (July 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Robot Parking Valet Creates Stress-Free Travel

Robot Parking Valet Creates Stress-Free Travel

AP (July 23, 2014) 'Ray' the robotic parking valet at Dusseldorf Airport in Germany lets travelers to avoid the hassle of finding a parking spot before heading to the check-in desk. (July 23) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins