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Modeling and Simulation in Secondary Computer Science Education
PhD ceremony:N. (Natasa) Grgurina
When:October 28, 2021
Start:16:15
Supervisors:prof. dr. K. (Klaas) van Veen, prof. dr. E. Barendsen, prof. dr. B. Zwaneveld
Where:Academy building RUG
Faculty:

In the Netherlands, Computer Science was introduced in 1998 as an optional subject in the upper grades of HAVO and VWO. Modeling and simulation is included as an elective theme in the recently revised Computer Science curriculum. Modeling and simulation is considered to be an aspect of computational thinking, and computational thinking in turn is an element of digital literacy which is expected to be included — as a new learning objective —in the soon to be revised national curriculum for primary and secondary education.

In this dissertation, didactic aspects of teaching modeling and simulation within the Computer Science course were explored, as well as the pedagogical content knowledge of teachers related to teaching modeling and simulation. The results include, among other things, a framework that describes how the problem under investigation is to be translated into computational elements, how to subsequently construct a computer model and use it for simulations, and finally how to interpret the results in the discipline where the problem originates. The findings show that students are able to construct computer models themselves or to adapt existing computer models, to use them to conduct research, and finally to reflect critically on the entire process.

Furthermore, this research has resulted in practical insights into teaching of computer modeling, and has led to the development of teaching materials for computer science (https://ieni.github.io/inf2019/themas/r-computational-science) which are suitable for use in other courses such as biology, geography or history as well. The results of this research demonstrate the possibilities of using computer models in education — for example, to simulate the course of a pandemic, analyze the results, and investigate both scientific and societal consequences.