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Developing iPad-based Physics Simulations that Can Help People Learn Newtonian Physics Concepts

, University of Kansas, United States

JCMST Volume 34, Number 3, ISSN 0731-9258 Publisher: Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE), Waynesville, NC USA


The aims of this study are: (1) to develop iPad-based computer simulations called iSimPhysics that can help people learn Newtonian physics concepts; and (2) to assess its educational benefits and pedagogical usefulness. To facilitate learning, iSimPhysics visualizes abstract physics concepts, and allows for conducting a series of computer simulations implementing inquiry cycle and model progression approaches. To promote learners’ motivation, iSimPhysics adopts various game mechanics in its learning tasks. To assess educational benefits and usefulness of iSimPhysics, selected questions from Force Concept Inventory (FCI) and Pedagogically Meaningful Learning Questionnaire (PMLQ) were administered before and after 17 graduate students used iSimPhysics. Paired t-tests indicate that students were able to solve more FCI problems (p < 0.01, ES = 2.28) and to provide more correct explanations (p < 0.01, ES = 1.19) after using iSimPhysics. Students’ responses to PMLQ questions indicate that inquiry-based learning activities in iSimPhysics were helpful for them to learn target Newtonian physics concepts. The findings of this study may suggest that iPad-based computer simulations providing appropriate instructional scaffolding (e.g., visualization, inquiry cycle and model progression) can be an effective learning tool for physics (and possibly other science) concepts.


Lee, Y.J. (2015). Developing iPad-based Physics Simulations that Can Help People Learn Newtonian Physics Concepts. Journal of Computers in Mathematics and Science Teaching, 34(3), 299-325. Waynesville, NC USA: Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE). Retrieved February 18, 2019 from .


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