Vol.2, No.12, 1400-140
Copyright © 2010 SciRes. Openly accessible at http:// www.scirp.org/journal/NS/
6 (2010) Natural Science
Information and communication technology in science
learning as a tool for “scientific thinking” in engineering
Eugeny Smirnov*, Vitali Bogun
Yaroslavl State Pedagogical University, Yaroslavl, Russia; *Corresponding Author: e.smirnov@yspu.yar.ru
Received 25 August 2010; revised 28 September 2010; accepted 3 October 2010.
New methodologies in science (also mathemat-
ics) learning process and scientific thinking in
the classroom activity of engineer students with
ICT (information and communication technology,
including also graphic calculator) are presented:
visual modelling with ICT, action research with
graphic calculator, insight in classroom, com-
munications and reflection of integrative ac-
tions. Ho w can we show our stu dent s the bea uty
of science (and mathematics) with ICT and the
way scientists think and try to find the truth? Is
it possible to create the motivation in science
learning for students using ICT or graphic cal-
culator? How can we organize the engineer
training on such professional activity in class-
room? In this paper we try to answer the ques-
tions using methodology of visual modelling
and technology of resource lessons in high en-
gineering school.
Keywords: Visual Modelling;
ICT or Graphic Ca lculator; Resource Lessons;
Engineer Education;
Motivation in Science (Mathematics) Learning
In education process for future engineer in science
(including mathematics) we remark the lot of opportuni-
ties for developing of “scientific thinking” and special
engineering skills using information and communication
technologies (ICT). Using of the ICT gives rise to new
opportunities in increase of motivation and efficiency of
problem-solving in science as well as personal and
mathematical training of the future engineer [1-4].
One of perspective directions of computerization in a
science and mathematical training of engineer is using of
computer-aided mathematical systems (CМS) and graphic
calculators in scientific research of students in learning
of science and mathematics. CМS are universal mathe-
matical packages of symbolical and numerical calcula-
tions (MathCad, Mathematica, Maple, Derive and so on)
and have joined the category of working instruments for
analytical calculations. Using of a graphic calculator in
teaching of science and mathematics, being an operative
instrument for solving complex computing problems as
well as an instrument for recording and visualization of
various stages in solving of problems, raises interest to
science and mathematics, makes the spectrum of cogita-
tive operations. On the other hand, the future engineer
should not treat the ICT only as the object of study of
their functions, modes, options, communications in order
to solve scientific and didactic problems, but as a tool to
control cognitive and communication activity of students
in their future professional work as well.
The opportunity of communications as well as using
of information ideas in the process of exchange of didac-
tic and scientific experience by students via Internet for
distance training and use of electronic working envi-
ronments as well as training material is of great impor-
tance of students more intense and influences the ways
of the training contents presentation.
However, there is still some work to do. The experi-
ence of the projects mentioned show that most science
teachers emphasize in their lessons the content of sci-
ence; pupils must learn concepts, formulas, laws and
models without ICT or some. Education in favour of
acquiring declarative knowledge. Yet there are a number
of contradictions connected with the ICT use in scien-
tific training and mathematical education of the future
engineer, namely:
Between the rate of development of information
technologies and the state of teaching of science
and mathematics in engineering universities and
Between opportunities of use the CМS in teaching
of science and mathematics and inadequacy of
E. Smirnov et al. / Natural Science 2 (2010) 1400-1406
Copyright © 2010 SciRes. Openly accessible at http://www.scirp.org/journal/NS/
scientific-methodical development;
Between the necessity of creating in students the
skill of construction of algorithmic model, while
solving a science, mathematical and real problem,
and significant volume of the calculations inter-
fering with comprehension of a model structure;
Between the necessity of formation computing
skills of students and practical use by students of
computer mathematical systems when they solve
problems independently.
We understand that scientific thinking of students will
be have a background if the essence of scientific recog-
nition is opened and will be have the special educational
activity of students in the integration ICT in science ori-
ented on competence based education [5-7]. We should
pay attention for scientific activity, scientific interactions
and cognitive acts similar the scientists work. The good
experience in technologies, the materials and infra-
structure developed was considered as important for the
development of patterns for repeating. We should create
the innovative forms (didactical models and technologies)
of organization of student activity using ICT in science
with high motivation. Therefore we should consider with
students the useful, beautiful and essential professional
tasks in science learning using modelling and visua-
lization of complex procedures.
In this paper we will emphasize three aspects related
to science learning with ICT and the professional
development of engineer in integration process. First, we
think it is a good idea to emphasize the scientific metho-
dology with ICT [8,9]. How can we show our students
the beauty and use of science and the way a scientist
thinks and tries to find the truth? Content, subject matter,
will be important, but we should reach the essence of
phenomena or process sometimes only using ICT. However,
to introduce science for public understanding we must
emphasize the thinking process of scientists. It will help
the students to get a better understanding of what science
and practice is all about and at the same time it will
motivate them to learn (more) about science with
visualization of algorithmic procedures and adequate
mathematical actions. Second, we like to modelling the
real phenomena and process (including mathematical,
science and information models) in integration on
different levels with forming the research habits and
skills (with the use of ICT). At last we would like to
form the engineering skills: problem solving in choice
situation; operating the evaluation, creating of models of
real phenomena and process on the base of visualization
and using ICT.
The problem of the research: define conditions of the
ICT integration into the process of becoming proficient
in scientific and didactic problems of science and
mathematical learning on the visual modeling basis of
objects and processes by engineer students.
The purpose of the research: create an integral system
(contents, forms, methods and conditions) of research by
prospective engineer in solution of scientific and didac-
tic problems of science education involving of the ICT
and utilizing visual modeling of basis and processes.
Application of the CМS for solution of scientific and
mathematical problems by students will promote growth
of motivation in scientific research as well as in profess-
sional development of the future engineer on condition
The practice of visual modeling is included into
educational activity during integration of science
and information knowledge;
Students construct models while solving scientific
and mathematical problems with application of the
CМS, which record mathematical optimum pro-
cedure mathematical and information actions;
Students manifest creative activity while learning
to use the CМS (a variation of data and analysis of
results, formation of hypotheses and their testing,
inter-conversion of the sign systems);
Communicative opportunities for groups dialogue
of students during their educational activity is
enlarged by means of information environments
(Media, Internet, conferences and so on).
Tasks: (scientific, didactic, information, methodology-
cal, professional):
Study functional possibilities and analyze the basic
CМS and Graphic calculator, create the models for
modes of work in the information environment;
Reveal didactic conditions and develop a tech-
nique of visual modeling using the CМS (the
graphic calculator) during teaching of science and
mathematics and solving of scientific problems;
Develop a laboratory workshop aimed at solving
of science and mathematical problems using the
CМS (the graphic calculator) and the methods of
its conducting for students on resource lessons;
Design interactive volume of information by
groups of students on the basis of authoring soft-
ware products and the results of the CМS (graphic
calculator) research;
Visualize the procedure of science and information
actions on the basis of improvement of students’
computing and logic culture.
The results and products of psychology theories and
conceptions will be input for a paper where we will em-
E. Smirnov et al. / Natural Science 2 (2010) 1400-1406
Copyright © 2010 SciRes. Openly accessible at http:// www.scirp.org/journal/NS/
phasize the creative way in which the acquirement of
scientific knowledge takes place. They are: competence
base education, visual modelling, scientific thinking,
integration levels and motivation process. We will an-
swer the question how to introduce the ICT in process of
scientific thinking and professional skills forming into
the learning process of students in engineering education.
Action research with ICT will be introduced as a tool for
future engineer to improve their profession.
3.1. Visual Modeling of Objects and
Procedures with ICT
The pedagogical technology of visual-modeling learn-
ing of science and mathematics plays a fundamental role
in the proposed didactic system of science and informatics
integration of knowledge and actions [10,11]. This tech-
nology makes it possible to achieve stochastically guar-
anteed result of teaching of various qualitative levels of
learned material as well as integrity of representation of
the basic science, information and mathematical struc-
According to our concept use of visual methods in
learning or teaching of science of a future engineer is
treated as a special property of psychological images of
science or mathematical objects, the essence of which is
considered in an integral paradigm of perception of the
basis of the following criterions:
1) Diagnosable aim-finding of integrity of the science
or mathematical object;
2) Adequate perception (learner’s comprehension of
essence of the science or mathematical object in accor-
dance with aims of learning or teaching);
3) Stability of perceptive image and presentation un-
der conditions of direct perception;
4) Cognitive and creating activity on the basis of re-
laxed and successful learning.
3.2. Aims and Indicators for Success
To reach goals related to our goals as formulated in
the preceding paragraph we must:
In relation with the scientific methodology:
Analyse the (international) experiences on how to
attract future engineer to science with ICT;
Investigate whether and how the ideas of students
on science and the scientific world change during
the project;
Describe learning activities (also including ICT) in
relation with “creative and scientific thinking” (pa-
radigm shift);
Design activities that can take place within the
regular curriculum and/or during short time the-
matic projects;
Pilot the develop lesson modules as resource les-
sons with ICT in engineering education in Russia.
In relation with action research:
Introduce the methodology of action research with
Support future engineer during the process of ac-
tion research with ICT;
Create and analyse the methodology of resource
lessons with ICT and rewrite the modules.
Develop a manual to show future engineer how to
implement and use action research with ICT in
their professional practice
Develop a manual to show future engineer how to
implement the kind of activities we designed dur-
ing the project.
Create the base of professional oriented tasks with
using ICT in different levels and forms.
It is required to teach students to project and investi-
gate mathematical models utilizing the ICT in such
components where their application is necessary and
justified (complex computing algorithms, visualization
and recording of various stages of science, mathematical
or information actions, construction of complex graphic
objects, etc.) [2]. Thus construction of integrative infor-
mation model, which optimizes use of an information
resource (functions, commands, modes, algorithms, etc.)
is a very important problem (Figure 1).
Developing the genesis of learning element with ICT
as pedagogical problem (object for mastering by another
subject in learning process with ICT) require the calcu-
lation not only mental experience, person characteristic
and conditions of activity, but system analysis of ana-
logical substructure of future subject of mastering in new
pedagogical conditions.
3.3. Diagnostic Procedure for Defining of
Students Motivation and Calculation of
Positive Shifts
Cognitive interest determines the activization of:
1) Achievement motives:
Presence of adequate result in practical activities;
Construction of mathematical and science model
of process or the phenomenon;
Ability to consolidation (in thinking of the pupil
and activity) the initial data for the decision of a
Realization of a choice in methods and procedures
of tasks decision;
Appearance of pupils insight in action research;
2) Social motives are defined by the dialogue and in-
teraction in small group:
A choice of a social role;
E. Smirnov et al. / Natural Science 2 (2010) 1400-1406
Copyright © 2010 SciRes. http://www.scirp.org/journal/NS/
Openly accessible at
Figure 1. Integrative model of mathematics (science) and ICT activities.
Frame of mathemati-
cal (natural-scientific)
activity of students
Design of
Model of a structure of mathematical
The ICT frame of
student’s activity
Design of informative
Procedure of using
(ICT) activities
Containable (computational, algo-
rithmic, visualization);
Essential (penetration into the
essence of mathematical objects)
Applied (solution of natu-
ral-scientific, economical-applied
Creative (solution of research
Modules Structure of design software
Listing programs;
Algorithms of potion utilization,
modes, commands;
Visualization of stages of solution
on a screen.
Integrative informational mode of
Environment (ICT)
Integral Model of Design of Elec-
Didactic components
of integrative model
CMS: Maple, Mathematica, Math-
Cad, Graphic Calculator, Remote
Reliable perception and repre-
Logical value of argumentation;
Control of acquiring the meth-
ods of mathematical activity;
Integrity of interiorization of the
visual row of perceptive images.
Terms of training:
Small group activity;
Creative activity of students;
Methods of visual modeling;
Construction of projective
Structure module of math (scien-
tific) activities
Search for adequate didactic,
computer-aided mathematical
systems (Maple, Mathematica,
Genesis of formation and
integration of mathematical
Logical and structural analysis
of content and form;
Agreement graph (coding) of
models components (natu-
ral-scientific, mathematical, in-
1 2
1 2 n
Statement and qualitative
analysis of initial data
roblems and the ICT
Creation of the
Motivation and goal setting;
Degree of difficulty and significance;
Semantic model and adequacy;
Actualization residual frames;
ation of mathematical ima
Inter-transitions of transformation of various
modality of sign systems;
Structural adequacy of the visual mathematic
Integrity of the procedure of mathematical
Variability, reproduction and transformation
of modes;
Differentiation of connections and construction
of agreement graph.
Mode of integration of scientific problems with ICT:
Integral structures of mathe-
matical objects and proce-
dures (product models);
Prognostication and design of
the future result;
Adequacy of mathematical
tool and structure of mathe-
matical associations.
Formation of an adequate cognitive scheme of training
Characteristics of creating environment;
Design ICT tools and mathematics (scientific) results;
Visual modeling of product activity;
Scientific thinking.
E. Smirnov et al. / Natural Science 2 (2010) 1400-1406
Copyright © 2010 SciRes. Openly accessible at http:// www.scirp.org/journal/NS/
Social tests and search positive (internal and ex-
ternal) results of dialogue;
Expansion and development of activity in a direc-
tion of self-realization of the person;
3) Motives in action research of pupils:
Actualization of pupils insight;
Integration of thinking efforts of pupil;
Visual modeling in knowledge and process
We try to use methodological ideas of problem solv-
ing, visual modeling, work in small groups, humanizing
of science and mathematics education with ICT:
Setting of the productive science problem with
mathematics and informatics decision (actualize-
tion of science, informatics and mathematics
knowledge of the last years on the basis of integra-
tion; participation in discussion and statement of
educational tasks; construction of science, infor-
matics and mathematical model of process or the
phenomenon; ability to consolidation (in thinking
of the pupil and activity) the initial data for the de-
cision of the problem);
Educational activity of pupils on high level of
complexity (quasi-research activity of pupils
aimed at analysis of results and search of new pat-
terns of relationships; search experiment using
numerical methods and computing procedures, di-
agnostics of information dynamics of parameters;
monitoring and correctional interaction of obtained
results, search of integrative knowledge and pros-
pect of development; skills of visual modeling and
estimation of real processes);
Efficiency of using resources (material, material-
ized, ideal) for activization of cognitive processes
and social interaction (presence of adequate re-
sults in practical activities; joint analysis, informa-
tion interchange, presentation of results; visual
modeling in educational activity; reflection and
internal plan of pupils action);
The organization of work in small groups (distri-
bution and the choice of social roles, planning,
fore- casting, acceptance of decisions, selection of
the data and modeling, registration of results; so-
cial tests and search positive (internal and external)
results of dialogue; expansion and development of
activity in the direction of self-realization of the
As the result of such approach on organization of
learning process for students in engineering universities
we introduce the notion of “resource lesson with ICT” as
the form of teachers and students activity for two sub-
jects in one lesson on the ICT-base, so we define the
“resource” as a necessary volume of the educational in-
formation in science (mathematics) sufficient for suc-
cessful development of pupils’ proficiency of in mathe-
matics (science) according to educational aims, integra-
tion of subjects on the ICT-base and following charac-
Equal volume and complexity of subjects material
(science, informatics and mathematics knowl-
Setting of subjects aims (scientific, informatics and
Setting of science and real problem with using of
ICT and mathematical resource (algorithms,
countable, logical, sign-symbolical, modeling and
so on);
Computing and science experiment;
Social activity of pupils and work in small groups;
Preliminary procedure of actualization of science,
informatics and mathematics knowledge;
Teachers manage the learning process of students
To our minds, one way to deal with the specified
problems is to realize technology of visual modeling and
conduct “resource lessons” at which the interrelation of
learning material on science, informatics and mathemat-
ics is revealed to its full and individual activity of pupils
The analysis of curriculum on physics and mathemat-
ics has shown the mismatch of sections learning and has
defined the “resource lesson” and “coordination graph”
technologies constructions. We look on two lessons in
Russian schools concern with “resource lesson” meth-
odology. Testing applying to more than 1000 pupils of
secondary schools has shown strong influence the vol-
ume of mathematics in science on pupils motivation. At
the same time it will be grown the level of “scientific
thinking” and research activity of pupils.
First one is the title “Fall of the body” for 10 class of
secondary school (integration of ICT, physics and
mathematics) using the graphic calculator.
4.1. Purposes and Problems
Using Newton Second Law to research of the real
physical processes (the building physical, infor-
matics and mathematical models, structures acting
power, procedures and mathematical dependen-
Use the numerical methods for the decision of the
E. Smirnov et al. / Natural Science 2 (2010) 1400-1406
Copyright © 2010 SciRes. Openly accessible at http://www.scirp.org/journal/NS/
physical problem with ICT-graphic calculator (the
method iteration, approximations, derived to dif-
ferential relations);
Use the graphic calculator for complex current
calculations and visualizations stages of decision
of the physical problem ;
Substantial interaction of informative and physical
resources (visual modeling, structure, levels, dy-
namics, forms, efficiency) using mathematical
Motivation to physics learning using informatics
and mathematics for personal development of pu-
4.2. Setting of the Problem
The body by the mass 70 kg falls with the big height.
The power of the air resistance is finding by the equation
Fre = Av + Bv3, where factors A and B are defined of the
body size. Let these factors are the following values: A =
5 H·s/m and B = 10-2 H·s3/m3. We must to find the veloc-
ity depending on time, passed after begin falls. Trace the
graphics v(t) and s(t).
4.3. Organization Work in Small Groups
4.3.1. Features
1) Dialogue, discussions and criticism in behavior and
thinking of pupils;
2) The analysis, information interchange, presentation
of physical and mathematical results;
3) Integration of graphic calculator using and esti-
mated and algorithmically activity of pupils.
4.3.2. Procedure
Work in small groups with the purpose of self-deter-
mination, self-realization and activization of independent
cognitive and creative activity of pupils (groups on 5-6
pupils are united on personal sympathies and interests
with possible rotation of structure and distribution of
functions and roles in group):
4.4. Mathematical Model
We should use in this procedure the method of se-
quential approximation for calculation the values of v(t)
and s(t) as functions from time. The students can change
the values of A, B, m, t for view (by using the graphic
calculator opportunities) on dynamics of process. They
can answer on questions:
Is a function v(t) monotone?
Can you find the time of body landing?
What happened with time landing, velocity landing if
the body will have the different initial velocity?
How can you see that happened with velocity and
time landing if the mass will be different?
The students can fill the table of values, view the
graphics, to find the analytical decision of the problem.
4.5. Activity of Pupils
Distribution of social roles in small group, an indi-
vidualization of educational activity (planning,
forecasting, acceptance of decisions, selection of
the data and modeling, managing of graphic cal-
culator using, registration of results;
dt  
dvAv Bv
dt m
Av Bv
vvg m
 
E. Smirnov et al. / Natural Science 2 (2010) 1400-1406
Copyright © 2010 SciRes. Openly accessible at http:// www.scirp.org/journal/NS/
Presentation of research results in small groups
and reflection
The analysis of these results made us feel confident
that the hypothesis concerning the opportunity to in-
crease motivation in learning of science (mathematics)
by incorporating into science (mathematics) lessons of
suitable mathematics (science) material is consistent and
logical. It can be achieved by means of development of
“resource lessons” and activization of cognitive activity
of engineering students by visual modeling and group
work activity. The conducted research has shown the
importance of the chosen topic and has partially con-
firmed the put forward hypothesis about the significance
of the integrated approach to interaction of science and
mathematics with ICT in engineering education. Re-
search of the innovative approach in visual modeling of
science, informatics and mathematical processes, active-
tion of motivational and cognitive processes have pro-
moted positive changes in personal development and
successful mastering (learning) of teaching material.
Resource lessons with ICT as basic form of realization
of interaction of science, informatics and mathematics
has shown its efficiency and opportunity for further re-
search. It is recommended to develop the cycles of re-
source lessons with ICT in learning of science and
mathematics at University and to carry out a detailed
analysis and feasibility of the technological innovations.
On the basis of the model and the method of research
we have worked out ideas on the series of “resource les-
sons” with ICT for engineering students (also using
computer mathematical system: Maple, MathCad, Ma-
thematica and so on) on the laboratory work on science
or lessons in mathematics.
Together with teachers and teacher educators we have
to design more lessons, to carry out those lessons in
classrooms and to analyze the lessons and the knowledge
of the students. We also want to design lesson activities
in which engineering students can learn by means of
computers as a learning tool more scientific problems.
The experiences are very promising and we like to in-
vestigate the use of simulations and computer based
laboratory work in relation with “resource lessons” in
mathematics and science.
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