Using a multi-user virtual simulation to promote science content: Mastery, scientific reasoning, and academic self-efficacy in fifth grade science

Wednaud J Ronelus, Pace University


The purpose of this study was to examine the impact of using a role-playing game versus a more traditional text-based instructional method on a cohort of general education fifth grade students’ science content mastery, scientific reasoning abilities, and academic self-efficacy. This is an action research study that employs an embedded mixed methods design model, involving both quantitative and qualitative data. The study is guided by the critical design ethnography theoretical lens: an ethnographic process involving participatory design work aimed at transforming a local context while producing an instructional design that can be used in multiple contexts. ^ The impact of an immersive 3D multi-user web-based educational simulation game on a cohort of fifth-grade students was examined on multiple levels of assessments—immediate, close, proximal and distal. A survey instrument was used to assess students’ self-efficacy in technology and scientific inquiry. Science content mastery was assessed at the immediate (participation in game play), close (engagement in-game reports) and proximal (understanding of targeted concepts) levels; scientific reasoning was assessed at the distal (domain general critical thinking test) level. ^ This quasi-experimental study used a convenient sampling method. Seven regular fifth-grade classes participated in this study. Three of the classes were the control group and the other four were the intervention group. A cohort of 165 students participated in this study. The treatment group contained 38 boys and 52 girls, and the control group contained 36 boys and 39 girls. ^ Two-tailed t-test, Analysis of Covariance (ANCOVA), and Pearson Correlation were used to analyze data. The data supported the rejection of the null hypothesis for the three research questions. The correlational analyses showed strong relationship among three of the four variables. There were no correlations between gender and the three dependent variables. The findings of this study support the hypothesis that the intervention group students will obtain dramatically larger gains on the three measures: Cornell Critical Thinking Test, Curriculum-Oriented Test, and the Self-Efficacy in Technology and Science (SETS) survey.^

Subject Area

Mathematics education|Elementary education|Educational technology|Science education

Recommended Citation

Ronelus, Wednaud J, "Using a multi-user virtual simulation to promote science content: Mastery, scientific reasoning, and academic self-efficacy in fifth grade science" (2016). ETD Collection for Pace University. AAI10257709.



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