When students were creating and changing their characters’ rules didn’t present important differences in their strategies. All groups were creating rules and then trying each rule by running the program. However, the only difference that was observed was that the couple with kinesthetic preferences were creating rules and trying them more frequently than the other two couples. On the other hand, students with auditory preference were discussing how to create a rule and then trying to create it and later on were testing if the rules were appropriate by running the program.
Also, in the process of editing the rules, when students were running the program and realizing that the functions weren’t appropriate, they usually deleted the rules and creating new ones. Especially, Stylianos and Maria (kinesthetic learners) were deleting the rule immediately and creating one from the beginning, without trying to identify what was wrong with the existing rule. The other two groups initially were trying to identify what was wrong with the rule and made some efforts to make corrections, but eventually they found it easier to delete the rule and create another one. Katerina and George (auditory preference) were discussing on how they could correct the rule then were trying their ideas to see if they worked, while Elisabeth and Xenia (visual preference) were translating the rules according to the images that consisted each rule and trying to find what wasn’t working properly.
(Some of students’ models on SC are presented in Appendix 3) Group interviews Group interviews were helpful on identifying what features of the program enhanced students’ motivation, where they found difficulties and what helped them resolve them. From the analysis of the group interviews there were found differences between each couple’s interactions with the program. For instance, when children were asked what helped them understand better how day and night occurs there were various responses. Some children found helpful activities that were computer-based, while other preferred non computer-based activities.
Elisabeth with strong preference in visual and auditory learning stated: “Ehhh…I think the activity where the teacher demonstrated how day and night occurs, by using the globe and the desk lamp and she was explaining the different phases at the same time, helped me understand better day and night because I could see the functions and listen what was happening and because it was in three dimensions seemed more real than the computer.
The fact that the teacher was explaining while I was watching was easier for me, since I didn’t have to read anything.” On the other hand, Stylianos, who has strong preference in kinesthetic learning, revealed that by creating a model on the computer and then running it was very supportive for his learning. As he stated “When I was watching the model that I created on the computer I could realize better how day and night occurs.
I like working with the computer so the procedure of creating a computer-based model was pleasant”. In contrast, Katerina (strong auditory preference) believed that the program was confusing, since at the beginning when they were using the tutorials was an easy procedure and she characterized it as a “game”, but later on when they had to think their own rules it was really hard. She believed that it was difficult for her to find a way to represent the phenomenon by using the specific computer-based programming environment and in a lot of phases she needed guidance and support from the teacher.
Another important difference that was revealed between students’ answers was when they were asked if they would prefer to work individually instead of collaborating in couples. Elisabeth and Xenia, who were at the same group and both had strong visual preference agreed that the fact that they were collaborating was supportive, since they were able to help each other in order to find solutions and different ideas to overcome any obstacles that arose.
Also, Stylianos (kinesthetic strength) found it supportive that he had a partner and he could find help from her, while Maria who was his partner believed that it would be better if she had to work on a computer by herself and just accept help from her classmates and the teacher, only when she had some difficulties. That seems to be a result from the fact that Stylianos wanted to have full control of the mouse and consequently he was dominating Maria. Moreover, Katerina and George also agreed that because they worked in couples helped them very much, since they could discuss, express and share their thoughts and therefore move on with the procedure of modeling effectively.
Another point that is important to be mentioned is that when children where asked if they would prefer to work in a lab and represent the phenomenon with materials instead on a computer program their opinions differ in two aspects. Only Stylianos and George indicated that they preferred working with a computer program because they like working with computers. Even though Stylianos said that he would also be interested on working with some real materials since he would have the opportunity to get involve with interesting activities that would require to use and other parts of his body instead of “just sitting in front of the computer and using only his hands”.
Maria, Katerina, Xenia and Elisabeth supported that they would prefer to work with materials since they found the procedure of modeling on the computer difficult and confusing. Also, they believed that it required much more effort and time than working in a science lab with real materials. Responses of the specific question reveal gender differences between students’ confidence with the computers, since boys seemed to feel more self-assurance on using the computer, while they found it challenging. On the other hand, girls feel uncomfortable on using computers in their teaching, since they found it hard.