New Perspectives in Science Education

Edition 13

Accepted Abstracts

The Implementation of Simulation Modeling in the Extreme Psychology Master’s Course

Valentina Ekimova, Professor (Russian Federation)

Alexey Kokurin, Professor (Russian Federation)

Anna Litvinova, PhD (Russian Federation)

Elena Orlova, Professor (Russian Federation)


With the development of computer and information technologies the best way to make science more attractive for students, and promising for meaningful learning, is to integrate new technologies in the teaching process by using innovative teaching and learning strategies. Simulation or computational modeling has unique advantages in this respect as a tool of constructing a virtual learning environment dealing with the scientific content area of different disciplines. Simulation modeling suits well for the study of complex behavioral systems and is widely used in psychological researches, but the educational value of simulations is not widely investigated. The aim of this study is to explore the effect of students’ simulation investigative activities, in their general experimental abilities and special competences in the area of Extreme Psychology. Extreme psychology is a relatively new area of interdisciplinary research that deals with questions related both to developmental, social, juridical, clinical etc. psychological problems and to psychology of rescue and risk, disasters, terrorism and crimes. A total of 116 Extreme Psychology Master’s Course students were involoved in investigative activities with virtual data manipulations in a simulated laboratory. Two of three main simulation types of models: agent-based (1) and systems dynamics (2), were used for explanation, proof and prediction purposes. The modifications of the Science Research Team format - the Interrupted Case Method, was applied to resemble the scientific method in a real context – the students worked with incomplete data, made tentative hypotheses, collected more information, made more predictions,  and so on. After the semester’s course there was improvement observed in the students’ skills to design experiments in extreme psychology: the majority were able to formulate hypothesis with scientific criteria; define the criteria for their profing; adequately define the appropriate initial conditions of the system and explain its changes; choose the necessary exploration devices and instruments; better predict the possible outcomes. Simulation modeling in a virtual laboratory proved to be an important resource to improve the understanding of the science content and the development of scientific skills of students.


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