Descubre el nanomundo … el mundo de lo más pequeño

CREST Research Seminar

Posted in by on the March 19, 2012

An Educational Framework for Simulation-Based Engineering and Science: Toward Personalized Learning in the Nanoelectronics Domain

By Dr. Alejandra J. Magana, Department of Computer and Information Technology at Purdue University

Computational science is increasingly used to extend the capabilities and findings of scientific research. Computing has enabled scientific breakthroughs in molecular biology by breaking the genetic code, in atmospherical sciences by improving weather forecasting, in nanotechnology by simulating nano-devices, among others. In this way, computing has become “a third leg” in today’s methodologies of science complementing theory and physical experimentation.

Computational simulations developed as research tools for experts, such as those deployed on the, could also function as learning environments for novices. Although progress has been made on research that examines students’ learning with computer simulations, less is known about instructors’ goals with regards to incorporating simulations in their teaching and student reaction to instructors’ uses of such tools for teaching and learning. Through a series of qualitative and quantitative research studies we attempt to understand how nanoHUB simulation tools are used as teaching and learning tools in science and engineering education.

Results of Dr. Magana studies reveal the vast potential of integrating computational simulation tools into formal learning experiences. Outcomes of her research include: (a) a set of learning outcomes associated with instructors’ goals for incorporating simulation tools into their teaching and (b) a framework that identifies major benefits on students’ learning and that suggest ways to address their difficulties when using or building computational simulation tools. These outcomes provide a general model for using computational simulations as teaching and learning tools from the perspectives of instructors and students. These outcomes also provide guidelines on how to better design curricular materials that accompany computational simulation tools. Current implementations in the nanoHUB informed by our research findings and the future work will also be discussed.

Alejandra J. Magana is an assistant professor in the Department of Computer and Information Technology at Purdue University. Before her current position, she held a joint appointment as a visiting assistant professor in Computer and Information Technology and Engineering Education at Purdue University. Previously, she worked as postdoctoral research fellow for the Network for Computational Nanotechnology also at Purdue. Dr. Magana holds a Ph.D. in Engineering Education.Magana’s research interests are centered on what she calls discipline-based computational thinking investigating how people learn with and about scientific computing.

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