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Role of Dyslexia in Developing Spatial Mental Models for Problem Solving by Simulating a Marine Environment
William Winn

Learning is an intrinsically complex process, often made more so by the complexity of subject matter and the complexity of the computer-based systems that students use to learn. All of this makes research on learning about natural phenomena difficult to do well. This article describes this difficulty and suggests methods for dealing with it. The discussion is illustrated by a study in which dyslexic children and normal readers used a computer simulation of physical oceanography to learn about the marine environment. Behavioral data describing students’ activities using the system, cognitive data obtained from maps students drew, and brain activation data obtained using fMRI were used to explain, in aggregate, how the students learned the material. The article concludes that systems theory may be an effective framework within which to conduct this kind of research.

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