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Performing simulation modelling in the classroom: students enact the Daisy model

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The Daisy model was primarily designed for research on diffuse nitrogen pollution from agriculture in Denmark, with limited application by agricultural advisory services. It has been used for research of transport phenomena for soil water and chemicals such as plant hormones, pesticides and ecotoxins. The model is attractive research tool and has been taught during the past decade in academic educational programs at PhD and MSc level by Danish universities, domestically and abroad.
In the context of Biggs (2012) theory on teaching for enhanced learning (doi: 10.1080/07294360.2012.642839), the aim of this study was to elucidate the student ‘enact’ of Daisy as a tool for their research work.
We conducted a simple questionnaire targeting MSc students of the Sino-Danish educational program for the past six years (2017-2021). The survey comprised three questions designed in mentimeter and distributed electronically to 43 respondents with available emails. The response rate was 58%, 12% of which were domestic replies, and 7% did not specify country. The majority respondents (28-32%) used Daisy in the last two years, 4-16% were traced between 2019 and 2017, while 12% did not specify year of Daisy use. Asked to quantify the “difficulty” operating with the model during the course on a 3-grade scale, 50% of the respondents answered they have medium difficulty (“so-so”), flanked by 26 and 23% for, respectively, “very difficult” and “easy”. Those with “very difficult”” or “so-so” difficulty pointed on the need to introduce model syntax/grammar prior the teaching, as well as visual interface and graphics export as helpful to the current model settings. Students with “easy” model operation emphasized its usefulness for work related to food production predictions and agricultural systems research, which reveals a holistic perception for system modelling. However, when the 76% of “so-so” and “very difficult” respondents are linked with the low number of students using the model after the course, a decreased use of the Daisy model can be deduced.
This is the first qualitative evaluation of the Daisy model as a learning tool. Despite the simple approach, the results collectively suggest slow uptake of the model for students’ research needs. Further activity should focus on the level 3 of the Biggs theory (“Focus: what the student does”) in order to reveal obstacles for achieving student’s understanding of the model the way the teacher wants and implement or improve teaching/learning activities to reach those kinds of understandings.
Original languageEnglish
Publication yearNov 2021
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2021
EventDaisy 2021 workshop - Copenhagen University, Copenhagen, Denmark
Duration: 5 Nov 20215 Nov 2021
https://daisy.ku.dk/news/daisy-2021-workshop-presentations-and-posters/

Workshop

WorkshopDaisy 2021 workshop
LocationCopenhagen University
CountryDenmark
CityCopenhagen
Period05/11/202105/11/2021
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