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engaging primary school students in learning science by using Active Worlds - Study

  • Date Submitted: 02/06/2013 03:31 AM
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A case study of engaging primary school students in learning science by using Active Worlds
Kim Hock Ang
Loyang Primary School Singapore

Qiyun Wang
Learning Sciences and Technologies Academic Group National Institute of Education Nanyang Technological University Singapore Underachiever students often have difficulties in focusing attention on learning and easily lose their interest. The purpose of this study was to explore how the three-dimensional (3D) Virtual Learning Environment (VLE), Active Worlds, could engage underachiever students in learning the scientific concept of the Solar System. A group of ten underachiever students from the primary 5 grade were selected to participate in this study. They were tasked to make use of Active Worlds to build 3D objects that could display information correctly about the Solar System. Results showed that the students were engaged in the learning task and expected more topics. The information presented in the virtual space was accurate. Some issues regarding student engagement and implications of using VLEs for teaching and learning are discussed. Keywords: Virtual Learning Environment, VLE, 3D, online games, engaged learning, Active Worlds, under achievement, primary science

Introduction
In Singapore schools, students start to learn scientific concepts like Cell Division and the Solar System in primary 5. These concepts are rather abstract in nature since they are physically hard to be seen or touched. Consequently many students, particularly those underachievers whose performance scores in subject tests are consistently below the 25th percentile (cf Swanson & Lussier, 2001), have difficulties in learning Science. This may lead to them losing interest in the subject and eventually turning into a negative attitude towards learning. However, a majority of primary school students are interested in playing computer games. A most striking feature of games is their ability to motivate and challenge the children (cf Kafai,...

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