Confidence drives exploration strategies in interactive simulations


  • Amaël Arguel
  • Jason Lodge
  • Mariya Pachman
  • Paula De Barba



discovery learning, confidence, interactive interface, digital learning environments


Maximising the benefits of digital learning environments requires understanding how students process what they are exposed to in these environments. Besides approaches based on examining information processing within the cognitive domain, the importance of including emotions has been recently addressed. This study aimed to explore emotional dynamics during discovery learning in an interactive simulation, with continuous measures of self-reported confidence and challenge. Interactions from participants were recorded and two groups were created according to the exploration strategy used: systematic or non-systematic. Visual exploration was also measured by eye tracking as well as knowledge at pre- and post-test. Results suggest that learners using a systematic exploration strategy ran significantly more simulation cycles than non-systematic learners. Moreover, the latter group reported to be significantly less challenged and more confident about understanding the material. These results emphasise the importance of student perceptions of their capabilities when learning in flexible, less structured digital environments.






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