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Engaged by Design: Using Simulations to Promote Active Learning

, , , UC Santa Barbara, United States

AACE Award

EdMedia + Innovate Learning, in Orlando, FL USA ISBN 978-1-880094-60-0 Publisher: Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE), Waynesville, NC


We test our hypothesis that student in-class Internet actions reflect their attention levels. We predict that an engaging learning environment will result in students performing a higher number of on-task Internet activities. To test our hypothesis, we compare student behaviors during two types of instructional episodes. Students participate in either a traditional, lecture-based lesson or an interactive simulation exercise. To measure student attention levels, we develop a Classroom Behavioral Analysis System (CBAS) that records all student computer actions during the observed class periods. We then count and label these actions as on-task or off-task, depending on relevance to the classroom activity. We find that students attending the simulation class perform a significantly higher number of on-task actions. These findings support our hypothesis that engaging lessons result in higher levels of on-task Internet activities. Equally important, CBAS accurately reflects student attention levels and is therefore a promising tool for studying engagement.


Bulger, M., Mayer, R.E. & Almeroth, K.C. (2006). Engaged by Design: Using Simulations to Promote Active Learning. In E. Pearson & P. Bohman (Eds.), Proceedings of ED-MEDIA 2006--World Conference on Educational Multimedia, Hypermedia & Telecommunications (pp. 1770-1777). Orlando, FL USA: Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE). Retrieved December 16, 2018 from .


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    Allan Knight, Kevin Almeroth, Hangjin Zhang, Rich Mayer & Krista DeLeeuw, University of California, Santa Barbara, United States

    EdMedia + Innovate Learning 2007 (Jun 25, 2007) pp. 4590–4600

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