Suppose you want learners to engage in an exciting learning environment. How about letting them do their own investigations, play games, enable cooperation and communication with peers, design objects, or analyze real life examples? Research that is related to the “Learning Sciences” master track focuses on learning processes in such learning environments. The research context is often Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL) environments and more in particular computer simulations, games, adventures and modelling environments. These type of applications offer specific features that enable self-directed, highly autonomous and highly interactive learning. They can offer learners support in the form of tools, scaffolds and automated agents. Learning in these environments differs from learning in expository environments in that it puts a higher emphasis on inquiry processes such as hypothesis testing and on regulative processes such as planning and monitoring. They offer specific opportunities to situate learning in realistic settings, but they also offer the possibility to adapt reality to support learning. In addition, inquiry learning and modelling present opportunities for negotiation and collaboration.
The research programme mainly focuses on:
- The identification of psychological processes of inquiry, modelling, and communication and collaboration
- Finding characteristic problems that learners experience when applying these processes
- The design and evaluation of learning environments that support an efficient and effective learning process
Our research has an experimental character (comparing different groups of learners), uses in depth techniques (such as thinking aloud procedures, eye tracking, or neurological measures) to uncover learning process and frequently produces learning tools that are used in actual learning situations. Research is conducted in national and international projects.
Example projects are
Dynamic representations on the interactive whiteboard www.simquest.nl/digibord [pdf]
Samenwerkend computerondersteund tekenen in het basisonderwijs' http://modeldrawing.eu/
Agents in Simulations [pdf]
Be COOL! [pdf]
Inquiry learning in primary education [pdf]