June 24, 2007
June 24, 2007
June 27, 2007
Computers in Education
12.840.1 - 12.840.22
Implementing a video game to teach principles of mechanical engineering
The paper describes how a video game is used to teach numerical methods to mechanical engi- neering undergraduates. The video game provides an authentic and engaging context in which to learn computational techniques and concepts that are often dry and uninspiring. After outlining a study demonstrating that students in the video game-based course learn more deeply than students in more traditional textbook-based courses, we describe how learning outcomes are integrated into the game-play. We contrast the game-based assignments to typical textbook problems.
For the past two years, we have been experimenting with a new way of teaching a numerical methods course to our undergraduate mechanical engineering students. Rather than designing the course around a textbook in which the students’ assignments are culled from the end-of-chapter exercises, we have built our new numerical methods course around a video game. Our goal has been to use the video game as an anchor3–5 for the course, providing an engaging context for almost all subsequent instruction, homework, and group projects.
Our motivation for doing so stems from the fact that annual revenues for the video game industry have long surpassed box of- ﬁce receipts from the movie industry.7 Ac- cording to a recent report from the Kaiser Family Foundation,22 83% of children be- tween the ages of 8 and 18 have at least one video game console in their home; 31% have three or more. The statistics across all cate- gories of race, gender and economic status are compelling. Children in this age group spend considerable time playing video games: 68 minutes per day on average.22 Unlike the passive medium of television, Figure 1: Screen-shot of NIU-Torcs. playing a video game usually means engag- ing one’s mind in complex problem solving exercises.15 The most successful video games are often ones that are the most challenging, mentally. They are also ones that have highly effective learning
Coller, B. (2007, June), Implementing A Video Game To Teach Principles Of Mechanical Engineering Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--2343
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