Empowered learning through microworlds and teaching methods: a text mining and meta-analysis-based systematic review




Microworlds are simulations in computational environments where the student can manipulate objects and learn from those manipulations. Since their creation, they have been used in a wide range of academic areas to improve students learning from elementary school to college. However, their effectiveness is unclear since many studies do not measure the acquired knowledge after the use of microworlds but instead they focus on self-evaluation. Furthermore, it has not been clear whether its effect on learning is related to the teaching method. In this study, we perform a meta-analysis to ascertain the impact of microworlds combined with different teaching methods on students’ knowledge acquisition. We applied a selection criterion to a collection of 668 studies and were left with 10 microworld applications relevant to our learning context. These studies were then assessed through a meta-analysis using effect size with Cohen’s d and p-value. Our analysis shows that the cognitive methods combined with microworlds have a great impact on the knowledge acquisition (d = 1.03; p < 0.001) but failed to show a significant effect (d = 0.21) for expository methods.

Document Type


Publication Date


Publisher Statement

Copyright © 2020, The Authors, published by Research in Learning Technology (RLT).

DOI: https://doi.org/10.25304/rlt.v28.2396

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Authors contributing to Research in Learning Technology retain the copyright of their article and at the same time agree to publish their articles under the terms of the Creative Commons CC-BY 4.0 License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/) allowing third parties to copy and redistribute the material in any medium or format, and to remix, transform, and build upon the material, for any purpose, even commercially, under the condition that appropriate credit is given, that a link to the license is provided, and that you indicate if changes were made. You may do so in any reasonable manner, but not in any way that suggests the licensor endorses you or your use.