Teaching with Modelling and Simulations

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The teachers use many effective strategies to introduce real-world models and simulations into the classroom. Teaching with models and simulations can boost many aspects of student performance enhancing computational assessment, methodical calculating abilities, understanding and analysing data, visualizing processes through simulations, creating and working with models, formulating questions, developing research skills, and acquiring skills to become a competitive scholar.

Why teach with Modelling?

Modelling technology presents compelling reasons to utilise models in a classroom. Scientific procedures involve the construction, confirmation, and usage of scientific models. Therefore, teaching should engage students in creating and using models. A model can be of any size, shape, and style. It is necessary to note that a model is not the actual system but merely a physical reconstruction to help students understand the real world in a better way. In
general, models include an input of information, a processor, and an expected output. Here are some reasons why teachers use models in their classroom teaching:

  • Models create a space for interactive student involvement. Research shows that there is a significant gain in learning when students engage in interactive activities. Thus, the teachers can create a learning environment around a model and inspire an interactive involvement experience.
  • Working with models enhances analytical abilities. Models can help students to learn computational skills such as graphical analysis, visualization, mathematics, statistics etc.
  • Some models allow students to perform sensitivity analysis to understand how changes in main system variables can modify the effective behaviour of the overall system. Such analyses can students to identify key points in a system that can be modified to result in the desired change and the benefits or risks associated with unplanned changes within a system.
  • The teacher can use models to introduce a specific topic. Models provide an environment for students to explore relevant processes related to that topic.

Effective ways to use models

The teachers should keep several things in mind when using modelling activities. Here are some pedagogical considerations for using
modelling in classrooms:

  • The modelling activity should be as interactive as possible. Instead of the teachers spending a majority of their time describing how things work, the students should be encouraged to work in groups and perform lab activities to understand the dynamics of the system.
  • The students should be involved in the model development process. This will give them an opportunity to test the model or alter it, which increases students’ awareness of the model and its connection to the real-world.
  • When teachers create opportunities for analysing and commenting on the models, it develops the understanding between different inputs and
    resulting outputs.
  • The teachers need to create opportunities for validating the model so that the students learn to compare model calculations to observations and increases their knowledge of its limitations.
  • The teachers need to emphasise that models are fictional and their purpose is to correlate observations with the real world. In this way, student can use a model to perform experiments without impacting the system under
    consideration.
  • The teachers need to ensure that the students understand the fundamental principles of a model and where it can be used. Having students recognize the fundamental principles of a model and their area of application can help them to gain an understanding of what the model can or cannot do.

Why teach using simulations?

Teaching with simulations offer opportunities for students to simulate data in order to solve a numerical problem or answer a particular question. There are many ways to use simulation such as physical simulation (taking samples of an item to create a sampling distribution for the same), simulating an event to predict the chances of outcomes (estimating the chances
of succeeding using two different strategies to choose which is better), or generating data on a computer (drawing random samples to generate data based on the probability model).

The teachers could use simulation technique in the classroom for many reasons:

  • Simulation is a useful tool for solving numerical problems so students can use simulation as a problem-solving tool.
  • Simulating help students develop an insight into the complex and abstract arithmetical concepts. The students can visualize the dynamic processes instead of learning through figures and images.
  • Simulations allow students an opportunity to informally answer questions related to statistical inference, before actually studying the topic in the class.
  • Simulations provide an effective way to engage students in formulating and testing theories about data, boosting their reasoning abilities about arithmetical concepts and events.

Effective Ways to Use Simulations

No matter whether the source of simulation is physical entities, a software program, or a web application, here are some recommended methods to use simulations that can enhance learning:

  • Provide a question to students and ask them to discuss and make a guess about the answer, then use this simulated data to verify their predictions.  The problem could be anything like predicting the average income of a country if it adopts a certain policy.
  • Invite students to make predictions of what could happen under some conditions and then test those predictions. For instance, how the sampling distribution will change if the sample size is expanded.
  • Ask students to devise rules for a particular phenomenon like listing the factors that would affect the size of a confidence interval.
  • The teachers can ask students to design a model and utilize it to simulate data and test if a certain outcome occurred due to chance or some other factors contributed to that outcome. For instance, simulate data for coin toss outcomes and apply it for testing all the possible outcomes when the coin is tossed.
  • The students could be asked to execute a simulation to observe an important concept. For instance, the students can take random samples of heights of students in a class and create a distribution of mean height, to compare the distribution of mean heights generated by samples taken by students, and learn that the random samples can represent the entire class population.

If you are looking to incorporate modelling and simulation techniques into your teaching, there are plenty of resources available online. Discover a suitable technique that supports your teaching and boosts the performance of your students.