Simulation in engineering education: The transition from physical experimentation to digital immersive simulated environments

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Besides its use as a powerful systems analysis tool, simulation has also been used for decades in educational settings as a teaching and learning method. Simulation can replace or augment real-world inquiry-based experiences by providing learners with a low-cost and risk-free experimentation platform to develop knowledge and skills in a simulated environment. This paper presents an overview of current applications and the ongoing transition from physical experimentation to digital simulations and immersive simulated learning environments in engineering education. The paper highlights major implementation and research gaps related to simulation-based learning and immersive simulated learning environments, namely, lack of integration with learning theories and limited formal assessments of effectiveness. Potential implementation approaches and important areas for future educational research are discussed and exemplified in response to the identified gaps. The discussions presented are intended for simulationists, educational researchers, and instructors who are interested in designing and/or utilizing engineering education interventions involving simulated learning environments and immersive technologies in their teaching and educational research. In particular, the Immersive Simulation-Based Learning (ISBL) approach discussed in the paper provides a framework for simulationists to reuse the models developed as part of their simulation projects for educational purposes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
StateAccepted/In press - 2024

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Software
  • Modeling and Simulation
  • Computer Graphics and Computer-Aided Design

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