Tools for High-Tech Tool Use: A Framework and Heuristics for Using Interactive Simulations

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Daniel Adam Rehn
Emily B Moore
Noah S Podolefsky
Noah D Finkelstein


As the use of computer-based science simulations in educational environments grows, so too does the need for research on productive use of simulations. This paper presents ways to create effective assignments that accompany an interactive simulation in a variety of educational environments. A framework that supports the creation of assignments with simulations in any environment is provided, as well as a set of heuristics, or strategies, for how to create assignments based on the particular environment and simulation being used. Case studies of use in college and middle school science classes are provided to illustrate implementation of the heuristics, and how the heuristics can be used to promote productive use of a simulation.


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Rehn, D. A., Moore, E. B., Podolefsky, N. S., & Finkelstein, N. D. (2013). Tools for High-Tech Tool Use: A Framework and Heuristics for Using Interactive Simulations. Journal of Teaching and Learning With Technology, 2(1), 31–55. Retrieved from
Author Biography

Daniel Adam Rehn, University of Colorado Boulder

Department of Physics

Professional Research Asst.


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