Rethinking Pedagogy: Using Multi- User Virtual Environments to Foster Authentic Science Learning

Document Type

Conference Paper

Journal/Book Title/Conference

Proceedings of the International Conference of the Learning Sciences (ICLS)


International Society of the Learning Sciences

Publication Date



Science as it is portrayed in the typical K-12 classroom bears little resemblance to science as practiced by scientists, relying heavily on presentational pedagogies. To counter this, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the National Research Council, and the National Science Teachers Association have all called for a stronger emphasis on having students perform scientific inquiry in the classroom. Yet this has proven challenging to do. How can schools replicate authentic science experiences in the classroom? This paper reports on the benefits of using Multi-user Virtual Environments to create authentic science experiences for middle-school students that allow them to engage in the processes of scientists. Our research indicates that low self-efficacy students and those with poor initial knowledge do as well as those with average self-efficacy and better than those learning with more traditional inquiry pedagogies. High self-efficacy students, however, do better with the traditional inquiry methods.

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