New Perspectives in Science Education

Edition 13

Accepted Abstracts

Pre-service Teachers’ Preparedness to Use Digital Tools in their Teaching using the Example of Laboratory Simulations

Clemens Hoffmann, Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena (Germany)

Elizabeth Watts, Friedrich Schiller Universität Jena (Germany)


Digital competencies are understood as knowledge, skills, and attitudes necessary for professional use of digital tools to support teaching and learning [1,2]. While the recognition for the need for teachers’ digital competencies is not new, and has in fact been intensively discussed for more than a decade [3], the distance learning that was necessary during the pandemic reignited the discussion and the recognition the importance of the development of these competences is now stronger than before. Thus, it is the expertise of teachers/teacher educators in the use of digital tools, which includes good pedagogical-didactic judgment and an awareness of their impact on student learning and digital literacy [4]. As part of a pilot project at the Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena, a course was designed in which pre-service science teachers became familiar with different digital tools, reflected on their use in the classroom, and were encouraged to design ideas for digital support of teaching and learning processes in the course. To this end, students worked with a laboratory simulation software (Labster) and developed initial projects for its use in differentiated instruction. Laboratory simulation software provides a new approach to experimentation in science without the need for physical laboratory equipment. The digital format thus makes experiments possible that cannot be conducted due to the necessary equipment. In addition, a digital format allows experimentation experiences to be more easily adapted to the diverse needs of learners. This is partly due to the accessibility that comes from being independent of physical lab spaces, and partly due to the ability to quickly and immediately access additional information, help, and feedback. In addition to digital competencies, working with lab simulations also promotes experimental competencies to pre-service science teachers that can be applied to the conducting of traditional school experiments. By dealing with complex experiments and series of experiments, students can acquire the motivational and volitional skills needed to design complex practical laboratory exercises in school. The digital competencies of the pre-service teachers were surveyed by means of a questionnaire. More specifically, it was assessed how confident they feel in using digital tools in the classroom in general and in experimentation in particular. For this purpose, instruments by Viberg et al [5] and Riese [6] were used, which were complemented by further instruments [7,8]. In addition, the possible uses of the simulation software and the benefits that arise from this use for teaching practice were explored and investigated. Recommendations for the use of simulated laboratory environments were then derived from the experience gained during the trial and the results of the scientific monitoring. In the presentation, the results of the questionnaire study will be presented.

Keywords: digital competencies, digital tools, pre-service teachers, laboratory simulations.


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