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Lesson 2: Track B Summaries

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Schedule   ::   Lesson 2   ::   Track A Summaries   ::   Track B Summaries   ::   Both Tracks Summaries

Squire, Barnett, Grant, & Higginbotham, Electromagnetism supercharged! Learning physics with digital simulation games

Reading summary/quotes:

This study examines the impact of a 3D simulation game on the learning of electrostatic concepts – which include abstract, invisible, and complex factors – in a middle school environment. The study shows not just if computer games are better than instruction, but what learning occurs when students use a computer simulation. The article looks at Electromagnetism Supercharged!, a simulation developed to help students understand an abstract physical phenomenon. The end results were that students in the experimental group performed better than those in the control group.

“The purpose of the study is to examine what happens when a 3D simulation-computer game designed to support he teaching of electrostatics is brought into middle school classrooms (p. 1).”

“The investigation of computer games as an education tool is truly in its infancy (p. 2).”

“Many science educators agree that teaching physics concepts conceptually or naturalistically, rather than purely mathematically, might lead to deeper understandings (p. 2).”

“With sales of approximately $7 billion in 2002 and with the average 8th grader playing video games for approximately 5 hours per week, video games have become a cultural and social force that shape children and adolescents’ lifestyles (Gee, 2003). However, the investigation of computer games as an educational tool is truly in its infancy (p. 2).”

“As representations of electrostatic ideas, animations and visual depictions are not only tools for thinking about physics but objects that can engage, excite, and inspire learning (p. 3).”

“We believe that educators might use gaming structures such as fantasy, challenges, cooperation, or competition to create even more powerful learning tools, coupling the intrinsically rewarding aspects of games with the pedagogical power of simulations (e.g. Cordova & Lepper, 1996) (p. 3).”

“The goal of Supercharged! is to help learners build stronger intuitions for electromagnetic concepts (p. 3).”

“Studies are critically needed that examine how and in what ways videogames either support or inhibit learning (p. 7).”

Discussion points/questions:

  • There appeared to be differences in the way genders interacted with the game. Should games be designed to accommodate these differences? In other words, do we need a 'guys' version, or a 'girls' version?
  • Does Squire, et. al. adequately support the statement that students who played the game “were recalling experiences and challenges that were a part of design of Supercharged, whereas students in the control group were relying more on their ability to memorize information?
  • Squire says that “educational games need not necessarily rival commercial entertainment games in production value to gain students' interest.” Is this true?
  • Some students appeared to become bored rather quickly. Have the commercial games ruined the power of games to instruct? Put another way, have games like GTA and The Sims ruined text games like Zork? And has Warcraft made the 'cost of entry' for video games too high?

Koster, What games teach us

Reading summary/quotes:

Koster describes his perceptions on the overall evolutionary purpose of games as well as the skills that games can teach us. He makes the argument that people perpetuate antiquated skills and that they enjoy these kinds of games because they are visceral.

Many of the games people play prepare them to 'survive.’ As society has evolved, so have our games, though not as quickly as one may like. Many games still teach warring with the enemy, blind obedience to power, binary thinking. Games must continue to challenge poeple, or provide them with new dimensions, or they will likely lose interest.

“There are games all around us. We just don’t call them that (p. 50).”

“Most importantly – would fire drills be more effective if they were fun activities (p. 50)?”

As we get older, “we don't put away the notion of having fun, near as I can tell. We migrate it into other contexts (p. 50).”

“With age, some games turn serious (p. 51).”

“If games are essentially models of reality, then the things that games teach us must reflect on reality (p. 52).”

“In the end, most games have to do with power (p. 58).”

“Teamwork is a far deadlier tool than sharp shooting (p. 58).”

“Skills needed around a meeting room table and the skills needed at the tribal council are not so different, after all (p 72).”

“[Being thorough] is a broader survival skill. It requires patience, and a certain enjoyment of discovery (p. 76).”

Discussion points/questions:

  • Why do most games have to do with power and conflict?
  • The author seems to imply that games in many ways prepare us for reality. (Olympic games help players to 'survive') In what ways might video games do this? (hand-eye, problem solving, consequence of action, persistence, critical thinking, recall, economics, exploration, classifying, figuring odds, negotiation, resource management, etc.)

Contributors: Tom Caswell, Marion Jensen, Jennifer Jorgensen, Jon Scoresby, and Tim Stowell
Copyright 2008, by the Contributing Authors. Cite/attribute Resource . admin. (2008, May 20). Lesson 2: Track B Summaries. Retrieved January 07, 2011, from Free Online Course Materials — USU OpenCourseWare Web site: This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License Creative Commons License
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