Wilensky, U., & Abrahamson, D. (2006). Is a disease like a lottery?: Classroom networked technology that enables student reasoning about complexity.

Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association, San Francisco, CA.

ABSTRACT: Twenty-seven 8th-grade students in a diverse urban school participated in “Disease,” a participatory-simulation activity (Wilensky & Stroup, 1999a). Students used their own (networked) graphing calculators to manipulate computer-based agents. These agents moved and interacted in a shared virtual space that was projected onto an overhead screen. This design, a model built in the NetLogo multi-agent environment (Wilensky, 1999) and networked with the HubNet technological infrastructure (Wilensky & Stroup, 1999b), facilitated a classroom simulation of the complexity of disease propagation. We report on the rationale and design of this activity as well as on students’ learning gains as measured by mixed-methods analysis of pre/mid/post-tests and interviews and through qualitative analysis of classroom discussion. The software and lesson plans are available online for free download at http://ccl.northwestern.edu/isme/.

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