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Preliminary Results on Using a Video Game in Teaching Dynamics

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2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012



Conference Session

Mechanics Classroom Demonstrations

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

25.1055.1 - 25.1055.11



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Paper Authors


Brianno D. Coller Northern Illinois University

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Brianno Coller is an Associate Professor of mechanical engineering. He started his research career applying fairly deep mathematical ideas to gain insight into how complex physical and engineering systems work. His work was theoretical and somewhat abstract. Since then, his research has evolved toward studying a different type of complex system: how students learn and become excited about engineering. In this endeavor, Coller is mostly a ”nuts and bolts” practitioner, an engineer, and an experimentalist.

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Play-Testing a Video Game for Learning Engineering DynamicsFor decades, education scholars have been studying video games. They have found that the mostsuccessful games “teach” their players how to solve complex problems. Problems within a videogame typically start off rather easy and then progressively get more difficult as players’ skillsdevelop. Players are motivated to learn within video games because it is clear that knowledge ispowerful. The learning is situated, and occurs through a process of hypothesizing, probing, andreflecting upon the simulated world within the game. The goals are clear. Games provide playersimmediate and unambiguous feedback on how well they are progressing. Information becomesavailable to players at just the time they will be able to make sense of it and use it.Within the highly engaging techniques that game designers employ to get players to “learn” thegame, one finds echoes of modern learning pedagogies such as constructionism, inquiry-basedlearning, and anchored instruction. According to Koster, a game becomes fun when it requiresplayers to gain new skills at a deep level that get “chunked” and absorbed into the subconsciousmind, and then requires players to apply the skills/knowledge toward some goal. Furthermore, itremains fun if it requires players to gain new skills/knowledge, or transfer their skills to newproblems within the game. Ideally, this is the type of “fun” one would like engineering educationto be.Over the past two years, we have been developing a video game to help teach a sophomore-levelengineering dynamics. Over the past two semesters, we have been play-testing the game, in thecourse, exploring how different game features impact student learning and engagement. Weassessed conceptual learning with the Dynamics Concept Inventory and we measuredengagement with a technique called the Experience Sampling Method. For the latter, weembedded surveys in the game. In the conference paper, we shall present preliminary resultsfrom these studies.

Coller, B. D. (2012, June), Preliminary Results on Using a Video Game in Teaching Dynamics Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--21812

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