(153b) Making Interactive Simulations and Screencasts More Interactive

Falconer, J. L., University of Colorado Boulder
deGrazia, J., University of Colorado Boulder
To more fully engage students in learning, we have prepared interactive simulations that lead students through step-by-step procedures and screencasts that pause and require students to answer questions based on what they have just watched. Most of these simulations were programmed in Mathematica, and they are available on www.LearnchemE.com and on the Wolfram Demonstration Project site. A few web-based interactive simulations that give students a grade were also prepared and are available on the LearnChemE site. The software PlayPosit® was used to prepare the interactive screencasts by inserting questions into a previously-prepared screencast.

We currently have more than 160 interactive simulations (www.LearnCheme.com) that allow students to change parameters using sliders and buttons and observe how a system responds. The new simulations to be discussed are based on simulations reported by Bansagi and Rogers [1] for ternary phase diagrams and liquid-liquid extraction. They reported that student grades improved and the gap between poor and good students decreased when their simulations were used. In these simulations, each step requires students to locate a line or a point on a graph or input an answer, and the simulation than provides the correct answer. A hint is available for each step, but once the correct answer is shown, the student cannot go back to redo that step. They can, however, start over by selecting a new problem, which starts with different parameters and/or starting conditions. To date, ten step-by-step interactive simulations have been prepared for use in thermodynamics and separations courses, and a number of additional ones are being prepared. Although they are programmed in Mathematica, they can be used with free software available on the Wolfram Demonstration Project website (http://demonstrations.wolfram.com/about.php)

We have previously prepared more than 95 Interactive screencasts that consist of one multiple-choice conceptual question. Students click a link in the screencast to select an answer, and they are then directed to another screencast where they receive feedback for their response. However, these new interactive screencasts deliver content and then the screencast pauses and a quiz pops up that contains multiple choice questions (and other formats) about the material just viewed. Any number of questions can be inserted this way, and formative feedback is provided to learners. These screencasts with questions require the PlayPosit® software, which also allows the instructor to monitor student responses to the questions. The answers are automatically graded and the grades recorded directly into a learning management system.


[1] Bánsági Jr and T.L. Rodgers, Graphic web–apps for teaching ternary diagrams and liquid–liquid extraction, Education for Chemical Engineers, 22, 27-34 (2018)