PsychSim: Interactive Graphic Simulations for PsychologySue Burney
Psychology Department, Monash University
This useful and popular software package contains 19 interactive graphic simulations that have been developed for use in Year 12 and first year psychology classes. The aim of the software is to provide classic psychology demonstrations and simulations to enhance student learning. Each module takes approximately 15-20 minutes to complete and is accompanied by worksheets. The topic areas covered by the modules include: sensation and perception (2); biological bases of behaviour (4); cognition (4); learning (3); social cognition (2); abnormal psychology (2); and descriptive statistics (2).
PsychSim is accompanied by a very basic manual (40 pages) which clearly outlines the system requirements and installation instructions. It also includes a statement of purpose for each module, gives a brief description of each, and also contains some very simple worksheets.
The modules outline in a "student-friendly" format some of the classic experiments in psychology and also some of the basic psychological processes. It also contains two very useful demonstrations of descriptive statistics that provide a painless introduction to these topics.
The content of the software is accurate and the instructions make it very easy to use. The student can exit the program at any stage and obtain feedback about their performance at multiple points. While it does not have a HELP function this is not a problem as the instructions and the design of the template make this unnecessary.
PsychSim can be networked which makes it a very useful teaching tool in undergraduate psychology courses. It is a worthwhile purchase as it demonstrates a range of concepts that could not be achieved using traditional teaching methods. However, its usefulness depends to a certain extent on having an understanding of the theoretical underpinnings of pertinent psychological concepts, as it provides very little depth in this area.
UniServe Science News Volume 13 July 1999
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