Improving physics instruction by analyzing video games

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A poster presented on August 1 at the 2012 Physics Education Research Conference (PERC) associated with the Summer National Meeting of the American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT) in Philadelphia PA, Jul 28—Aug 2.

Abstract: Video games can be very powerful teaching systems, and game designers have become adept at optimizing player engagement while scaffolding development of complex skills and situated knowledge. One implication is that we might create games to teach physics. Another, which we explore here, is that we might learn to improve classroom physics instruction by studying effective games. James Gee, in his book “What video games have to teach us about learning and literacy” (2007), articulates 36 principles that make good video games highly effective as learning environments. In this theoretical work, we identify 16 themes running through Gee’s principles, and explore how these themes and Gee’s principles could be applied to the design of an on-campus physics course. We find that the process pushes us to confront aspects of learning that physics instructors and even physics education researchers generally neglect, and we suggest some novel ideas for course design.

A PDF of the poster and the associated proceedings paper are available on COMPADRE.