Contributions to learning

One of the constructivists’ arguments is that learners must be able to carry out realistic tasks, through scaffolding that enables the successful completion of learning activities. Even thought creating models is usually a complex process because it requires mathematical skills, with Model-It™ students can create representations of reality just by defining objects, variables and their relations from drop down menus and by describing them (Jackson, Krajcik, Soloway, 2000, in Jacobson, & Kozma, 2000). This supports the claim that with this kind of software, learners’ needs are addressed and learning is scaffolded, accomplishing the learning goals. Scaffolding is significant in such environments since the construction of knowledge is facilitated at a great degree.

Through Model-It™ the learning needs related to tasks, tools and interfaces are met (Jackson, Stratford, Krajcik, & Soloway, 2000). The experiences provided become significantly meaningful through the use of multiple media, such as photographs and several representations, because they facilitate learning in powerful ways (Wisnudel, Stratford, Krajcik, & Soloway, 1998). The environment in Model-It™ is interactive and supports student-directed learning experiences; “For example, to learn about a stream ecosystem, a learner might build and test a dynamic model of the system, learning through the process of analyzing data, constructing relationships, and developing and testing sample hypotheses” (Metcalf, Krajcik, & Soloway, 2000, in Jacobson & Kozma, 2000, p. 79).



Model-It™ has contributions to the following areas:
  • Student as the center of learning
  • Learner centered design of software
  • Mapping
  • Scientific modeling
  • Knowledge construction
  • Visualization of information
  • Active learning

A concluding note from the researchers:

“Model-It™ was conceived as a tool to support students in an essential component of learning science that previously was extremely difficult to accomplish in most middle and high school audiences. Designing a tool to support students in representing, interpreting and refining their thinking so they develop more robust understanding has been a challenging task. During the 4 years our group spent developing Model-It™, e struggled with how to develop computational software that embodies the principles of learner-centered design. Our goal with Model-It™ has been to support students with a range of mathematical skills in the building of dynamic models of scientific phenomena. Encouraged by our research findings to date we now believe that we have such a computational tool.” (Jackson, Krajcik, Soloway, 2000, p. 113)