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See detailStudents' exploration strategies in computer-simulated complex problem environments: A latent class approach
Greiff, Samuel UL; Molnár, Gyöngyvér; Martin, Romain UL et al

in Computers and Education (2018), 126

Complex problem solving (CPS) is considered an important educational achievement indicator. Previous research has indicated that CPS performance depends to a substantial extent on the way students explore ... [more ▼]

Complex problem solving (CPS) is considered an important educational achievement indicator. Previous research has indicated that CPS performance depends to a substantial extent on the way students explore problem environments. In this study, we investigated qualitative differences in the way students interact with such environments. In a sample of N = 2226 Hungarian students in Grades 6 to 8, we applied a latent class approach to investigate the use of the principle of isolated variation as an exploration strategy across six CPS tasks that were developed within the MicroDYN approach. Six qualitatively different class profiles emerged: proficient explorers, intermediate explorers, low-performing explorers, rapid learners, emerging explorers, and nonpersisting explorers. We further validated the profiles by comparing the latent classes with regard to students' overall CPS performance and additional indicators of task exploration. In analyzing age-related and gender differences on a cross-sectional level, we found only a small progression toward better performing class profiles from Grade 6 to Grade 8 (e.g., 14.6% of students in Grade 6 were proficient explorers vs. 24.6% in Grade 8; 27.1% of students in Grade 6 were low-performing explorers vs. 25.8% in Grade 8), and there were no substantial gender differences. This study contributes to the understanding of how students interact with complex problems and is the first to address whether variations in these behaviors indicate qualitatively different levels of strategic behavior. We discuss the theoretical underpinnings and potential of identifying class profiles of students' exploration behavior in the field of educational psychology. [less ▲]

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See detailBacArena: Individual-Based Metabolic Modeling of Heterogeneous Microbes in Complex Communities
Bauer, Eugen UL; Zimmermann, Johannes; Baldini, Federico UL et al

in PLoS Computational Biology (2017)

Recent advances focusing on the metabolic interactions within and between cellular populations, have emphasized the importance of microbial communities for human health. Constraint-based modeling, with ... [more ▼]

Recent advances focusing on the metabolic interactions within and between cellular populations, have emphasized the importance of microbial communities for human health. Constraint-based modeling, with flux balance analysis in particular, has been established as a key approach for studying microbial metabolism, whereas individual-based modeling has been commonly used to study complex dynamics between interacting organisms. In this study, we combine both techniques into the R package BacArena (https://cran.r-project.org/package=BacArena), to generate novel biological insights into Pseudomonas aeruginosa biofilm formation as well as a seven species model community of the human gut. For our P. aeruginosa model, we found that cross-feeding of fermentation products cause a spatial differentiation of emerging metabolic phenotypes in the biofilm over time. In the human gut model community, we found that spatial gradients of mucus glycans are important for niche formations, which shape the overall community structure. Additionally, we could provide novel hypothesis concerning the metabolic interactions between the microbes. These results demonstrate the importance of spatial and temporal multi-scale modeling approaches such as BacArena. [less ▲]

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