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Abstract Title: Game-Based and Game-Informed Approaches to Physics Instruction
Abstract: Games are emerging as a major new literacy in our society, especially in the lives of our students. They have affordances far beyond those of other media for engaging, for persuading, and for educating. Scholars have noted that good video games are in fact carefully engineered learning machines, and that we in science education and the learning sciences have much to learn from game designers. One course of action is to use games to support or supplement instruction; another is to identify the fundamental principles and dynamics of game-based learning, and then investigate ways to incorporate those into non-game instruction. This targeted poster session will highlight a range of current efforts to improve physics instruction by studying or using games in creative ways.
Abstract Type: Poster Symposium

Author/Organizer Information

Primary Contact: Ian D. Beatty
University of North Carolina at Greensboro
PO Box 26170
Physics & Astronomy
Greensboro, NC 27402-6170
Phone: 413.320.1500

Symposium Specific Information

Moderator: Ian D. Beatty
Presentation 1 Title: A Model of Video Game Learning Dynamics to Inform Instructional Design
Presentation 1 Authors: Ian D. Beatty
Presentation 1 Abstract: To facilitate the use of video game dynamics and learning principles in physics teaching, I offer a theoretical model that integrates ideas from a broad range of literature. The essence of game play is voluntary engagement with a succession of challenges, powered by four dynamical loops: exploratory learning, identity growth, intrinsic motivation through mastery, and adaptive game response. Game play is a co-construction of the game mechanics and player, and much of a game's power to engage and teach arises from five different types of human-computer "meld" that the player can experience. The model describes coarse- and fine-grained elements of the game mechanics and their interrelationships, and can be applied at four different levels: the micro-level game as a succession of interesting challenges, the macro-level game as a designed experience, and two meta-level games focused on extending or modifying game aspects and on social interactions surrounding it.
Presentation 2 Title: The intersection of learning design and game design: a robust strategy for creating an effective educational games
Presentation 2 Authors: Dedra Demaree, William Garr, Stacey Church
Presentation 2 Abstract: To investigate the pedagogic potential of educational games, Georgetown University (GU) is implementing a rigorous instructional design process in which learning objectives are mapped to game actions/analytics and to research questions. The challenge for educational game design is to tap into games' pedagogical potential. Hoffman and Nadelson (2009) write, "Our evidence suggested that games are unlikely to fulfill instructional expectations unless a direct relationship exists between the game and the learning context." This game design process is being implemented at GU through a faculty gaming cohort and has been shown in a pilot project to produce a robust game design effective at achieving stated learning outcomes. We are gathering triangulated data sources to address: correlations between game play and learning outcomes, perceived helpfulness, and enjoyment and/or engagement when playing the game. This poster will detail the design process, its link to game theory, and preliminary findings.
Presentation 3 Title: Computer games and learning: The power of analogy
Presentation 3 Authors: David Brookes, Yuhfen Lin
Presentation 3 Abstract: If we throw students into an academic learning environment that has been designed on the basis of "good" computer game design, how can we help them to recognize and cope with the fact that they are no longer in a traditional academic setting? We will present the "expertise activity" that we implement at the beginning of every new physics class. We ask students to identify a field of expertise outside of their academic life. Computer gaming is frequently identified by students. We ask them to describe a learning cycle that they can show the rest of the class to describe how to become an expert in gaming. We will present qualitative data showing the productive learning attitudes that students activate when learning is placed in the context of computer games. We will discuss the power of having students construct analogies using source domains with which they are familiar.
Presentation 4 Title: Reverse Game Play as an Introduction to Scientific Reasoning
Presentation 4 Authors: David P. Maloney
Presentation 4 Abstract: Helping students, especially non-science majors, develop an understanding of three aspects of science -- that scientific reasoning is not something that only certain people are capable of doing, that scientific theories are not "grown-up" hypotheses, and that all scientific findings are tentative -- is a difficult endeavor. Students have few, if any, experiences where they explicitly engage in formulating and testing hypotheses and building a model (theory) of a system. We have used reverse game play to put students into a situation where they have to carry out this program. The students are given the board, playing pieces, and several histories of two people playing an abstract strategy game. Their task, working in small groups, is to infer a model of the game, i.e., the starting positions, legal moves, how to win, etc. Preliminary investigations suggest that students have a tendency to generate vague and/or incomplete hypotheses through weak analysis.
Presentation 5 Title: Game-ifying Scientific Concepts of Radioactivity
Presentation 5 Authors: Andy Johnson, Forest Johnson
Presentation 5 Abstract: Inquiry into Radioactivity simulators scaffold learning by placing students inside virtual worlds open to exploration and experimentation, with no overt agenda. Game design considerations have influenced the IiR simulators in several ways. They compress time and space, and their appearance achieves a cinematic visual style that welcomes non-science oriented students. Their game-like behaviors encourage curiosity-driven exploration: surprising phenomena (such as ionization or radiation emission) are first seen unexpectedly. Students must figure out what they have just seen, and groups often dive unasked into investigations to make sense of what they have discovered. Like computer games, the simulators display behaviors based on a vision of how the world might be rather than on the real behaviors observed in laboratories. They also deliberately exclude visual elements that might lead to alternate interpretations. Artistic license is used to help students visualize and connect phenomena on wildly different size and time scales.