Comparing Novice and Experienced Students in Virtual Performance Assessments

Document Type

Conference Paper

Journal/Book Title/Conference

Proceedings of the 8th International Conference on Educational Datamining


International Educational Data Mining Society

Publication Date



Inquiry skills are an important part of science education standards. There has been particular interest in verifying that these skills can transfer across domains and instructional contexts [4,15,16]. In this paper, we study transfer of inquiry skills, and the effects of prior practice of inquiry skills, using data from over 2000 middle school students using an open-ended immersive virtual environment called Virtual Performance Assessments (VPAs) that aims to assess science inquiry skills in multiple virtual scenarios. To this end, we assessed and compared student performance and behavior within VPA between two groups: novice students who had not used VPA previously, and experienced students who had previously completed a different VPA scenario. Our findings suggest that previous experience in a different scenario prepared students to transfer inquiry skills to a new one, leading these experienced students to be more successful at identifying a correct final conclusion to a scientific question, and at designing causal explanations about these conclusions, compared to novice students. On the other hand, a positive effect of novelty was found for motivation. To better understand these results, we examine the differences in student patterns of behavior over time, between novice and experienced students.

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