Modeling and simulation practices have become commonplace in modern engineering, but in‐depth research on the development of modeling and simulation expertise is needed to identify the learning processes involved in successfully acquiring these skills. This study investigated student dimensions of expertise when engaged in modeling and simulation practices. The guiding research question was “How do students use cognitive and metacognitive knowledge when engaged with computational modeling and simulation practices?” This study included 11 undergraduate engineering students enrolled in a course on computational materials science. Data were collected from one of five computational challenges administered during the course. Students' cognitive and metacognitive knowledge use was first analyzed using thematic analysis and then through a phenomenographic approach. Findings were interpreted using the lens of adaptive expertise. Results describe how students used their cognitive and metacognitive knowledge to approach the computational challenge. Two categories in the cognitive dimension were identified: implementation‐oriented and knowledge‐oriented. Two categories identified in the metacognitive dimension were plan‐oriented and action‐oriented approaches. These categories are further presented as an outcome space by aligning them with the dimensions of adaptive expertise. Results indicated that students in the action/implementation‐oriented category exhibited many of the qualities expected of inexperienced novices, while students in the plan/knowledge‐oriented category demonstrated more of the qualities expected of adaptive experts. However, results were less conclusive for students in the two intermediate thematic categories, who often exhibited some but not all of the qualities of both novices and experts.
Magana, A. J., Fennell, H. W., Vieira, C., Falk, M. L. (2019). Characterizing the Interplay of Cognitive and Metacognitive Knowledge in Computational Modeling and Simulation Practices. Journal for Engineering Education.