During this part of their work the groups were working in a similar way. However, Katerina and George (auditory strength) were collaborating better than the other two groups since they were having big conversations that helped them express their thoughts and debug appropriate rules to achieve their plans. Elisabeth and Xenia (visual strength) were working quite well too, as they were discussing mostly about how their model would look like. However, Xenia was the one who had the control of the program, since Elisabeth preferred just looking and helping Xenia with the modeling construction.
On the other hand Stylianos and Maria (kinesthetic strength) were collaborating differently. Stylianos used to dominate Maria and wanted to have the control of the mouse most of the times, while Maria was trying to help Stylianos to create the model through discussion and guidance. This shows that even if both students have kinesthetic strengths, there are some characteristics that effect learning styles and they are gender-based. This comes in accordance with Milgram’s (2007) statement that boys have different learning experience from those of girls, so they have more experience with hands-on activities, something that might occur in the computer lab, while girls as Browne and Ross (1991) support prefer activities with social interaction.
Examples of conversation that indicate differences between students’ collaboration: And at this point Stylianos grasps the mouse from Maria and starts creating the rule the way he wants, without explaining to Maria what he is actually doing. Conversation type III: Students’ discussions about improving their initial model. This type of discussion took part while students were using the programming language to create rules. Students had already developed some rules and they were running their simulation to see if it worked efficiently. They were talking about how they could improve their model and make it represent the phenomenon more efficiently.
At this point I tried to help students evaluate and therefore revise their models in order to present the phenomenon more efficiently. In order to do that I used various ways that were attending to different learning styles. I showed them pictures and I also represented the phenomenon by using a globe and a desk lamp. By using these techniques and with students help I explained how day and night occurs. Moreover, to enrich all students’ understandings I used a lamp and asked children to imagine that this was the Sun and they should move around it like they were Earth.
When these activities were completed students tried to improve their models. Findings from students’ conversations revealed that each student gain understanding about the physical phenomenon from different activities, according to their learning preference. Students were learning better from activities that were related to their learning modality, as Felder (1988) also stated. For instance, when Stylianos and Maria (kinesthetic learners) were trying to improve their model they had in mind how they represented Earth with movements and they were performing the specific activity in order to figure out their model’s weaknesses and make the required improvements.
On the other hand, Katerina and George (auditory learners) were discussing on teacher’s explanation and words about the physical phenomenon, in order to find the required improvements that their model needed. In addition, Elisabeth and Xenia (visual learners) were observing really careful the pictures that represented how day and night occurs, but they were also discussing on how teacher used the globe to represent the phenomenon.
Students’ programming strategies While working with the specific computer-based program environment students were discovering different ways of working, which enabled them to create their model and represent the phenomenon as they wished. There were several combinations of activity patterns that were consistent among the three groups that are presented and discussed below. They include students’ activities while dealing with their models’ characters and their appearance and also their activities while creating and changing rules in order to improve their models.
Students dealing with their models’ characters During this activity students of each group were collaborating in a different way and were giving attention to different things. For instance, Elisabeth and Xenia (visual preference) were looking the pictures and the backgrounds that were available from the program and trying to imagine how they could create a model by taking advantage these characters. On the other hand, Stylianos and Maria (kinesthetic learners) were trying to create a character from scratch and they were really enjoying the procedure of creating their own characters.
The other group (auditory preference) used a combination of characters, since they decided to use some of the characters that were available from the program but they also changed some of them in order to make them appropriate for the model they wanted to construct. At this point it worth to be mentioned that students in all groups, before start creating rules for their characters’ behavior, got involved with the appearance of the scene by placing the characters where they wanted to be. Consequently, through modeling all students could express their thoughts while they could envision and test their ideas, as Schwartz & White, (2005) found in previous research.