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How effective is the computer game model for teaching chemistry?. Kermin Joel Martínez-Hernández Gabriela C. Weaver Department of Chemistry Chemical Education Division Purdue University. Overview:. Student feedback about game playing.

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how effective is the computer game model for teaching chemistry

How effective is the computer game model for teaching chemistry?

Kermin Joel Martínez-Hernández

Gabriela C. Weaver

Department of Chemistry

Chemical Education Division

Purdue University

  • Student feedback about game playing.
  • What makes the students adept at playing with them.
  • Develop computer games for teachingchemistry concepts.
prior findings about games in education
Prior Findings AboutGames in Education:
  • “PC games develop the curiosity to learn concepts" [Thomas and Macredie, in Amory, et al. (1999)].
  • “PC games stimulated and motivated the students and provide a way to present microworlds to learners” [Rieber, (1996)].
  • “PC games can be a positive feature of a healthy adolescence” [Durkin, et al. (2002)]
  • Adapt the engaging and addictiveelements of commercial games to educational games that help students learn chemistry.
  • Develop PC games that can be used to teach chemistry.
  • Understand the cognitive processes that students undergo when they play computer games.
research questions for overall project
Research Questions for Overall Project:
  • What do students enjoy when they use computer games, and what factors motivate them to play?
  • How can we use games to teach chemistry?
  • Can students gain conceptual understanding from using a computer game environment?
research design
Research Design:

Phase I (Summer and Fall 2003):

  • Comparative study of 7 games.
  • Data Collection included:
    • Demographic Surveys
    • Survey about game play
    • Observations during game play
    • Interviews after each game played
  • Analyze data to examine the characteristics of games that are engaging and help students learn.
research design cont
Research Design, cont.:

Phase II (This Summer):

  • Students will play Chemicus in addition to attending their general chemistry class where the same concepts are taught.
  • Game players will be compared to a control group who carry out chemistry study activities, but do not play the game.
  • Pre and post content tests are used to asses changes in student understanding using chemistry-related games.
  • Think-aloud methods are used to monitor student activities during game play.
research design cont8
Research Design, cont.:

Phase III (Fall 2004):

  • Use the findings from Phase I and II to develop new computer games with the goal of teaching chemistry topics.

Phase IV:

  • Test the game with students to get their feedback about the game developed in Phase III.
  • Conduct a similar study as Phase II but with the developed game.
  • Verify student understanding and clarifications of misconceptions about chemistry topics inside the game.


Volunteers and students sample:

  • Students from different disciplines:
    • mathematics
    • engineering (freshman, civil, mechanical, and aerospace)
    • science (health sciences, computer sciences)
    • liberal arts

Description of sessions:

  • Students play 4 (1 c.h.)or7 (2 c.h.) games for a total of 6 hours per game.
  • Complete a survey after1st hour of game playing andat the end of 6 hours.
  • Complete an interview with standardized open-ended questions (takes about 15 min.)
games evaluated
Games Evaluated

1st Person Shooter


Role Playing Game (RPG)


Adventure (puzzle)

Simulation (Flight/Action)

phase i research questions
Phase I: Research Questions
  • What do students like and enjoy about PC Games?
  • What makes PC games addictive?
  • What are the characteristics of the game that are engaging and enjoyable for students?
gender comparison
Gender Comparison:

5=Completely Agree  1=Strongly Disagree

Like strategy


Like war


Enjoy playing PC games

Like educational


Play game

as hobby



  • Males use computers more hours per week than females: 8.7 vs. 7.7 hours/week (p=.052).
  • Males play computer games more often: 5.9 vs. 2.7 times/week (p=.002).
interpretation cont

Likert Scale Questions:

  • 5=Strongly agree and 1=Completely disagree (p<.05)
    • Males enjoy playing PC games more: 4.8 vs. 4.2.
    • Males play PC games as a hobby: 4.7 vs. 2.5.
    • Females like educational games more: 3.3 vs. 2.5.
    • Males like war games more: 4.13 vs. 2.94
    • Both prefer action/adventure games most. (Males 4.3 vs. Females 4.1).
interpretation cont19
Interpretation, cont.


  • Hispanic use computers for more hours per week (9.0 vs. 8.1 hours/week; p<.01)
  • Not Hispanic play more computer games (7.5 vs. 7.0 times/week; p<.05)
what makes a good pc game wmgpc survey likert scale 5 strongly agree 1 completely disagree
“What makes a good PC game?” (WMGPC Survey)Likert Scale (5=Strongly Agree 1=Completely Disagree)

Table 1. Student high and low responses (RED=Females high, BLUE=Males High)

interpretation of data
Interpretation of Data:
  • “What makes a good PC game?” Survey (WMGPC)
    • Overall Females prefer Age of Empires(Strategy).
    • Males prefer Neverwinter Nights(Role Playing Game) and Battlefield 1942 (1st Person Shooter).
    • Both dislike Flight Simulator (Simulation) and Chemicus (Action/Adventure).
interpretation of data cont
Interpretation of Data,cont.:
  • Game Playing Survey (GPS):
    • Both prefer the sounds and graphics of Neverwinter Nights(RPG)(4.56 and 4.25)
    • Both prefer Age of Empires II(strategy) as type of game (4.44) (∆- Females). Males also like Neverwinter Nights(RPG)(4.44)
    • Females prefer the story line of Age of Empires(strategy), while Males like Neverwinter Nights(RPG).
    • Both agree that you need reflexes for Battlefield(1st person shooters) (Males 5.00 vs. Females 4.67).

Interpretation of Data,cont.:

  • Both think that you need problem solving skills for Chemicus(action/adventure-puzzle) (Males 4.67 vs. Females 4.47)
  • Both agree that the most challenging game was Chemicus(action/adventure-puzzle) (Males 4.40 and Females 4.35)
  • Females think that the most enjoyable game was Age of Empires II(strategy) and Males think that was Neverwinter Nights(RPG). However, Males also classify Battlefield as most enjoyable.
  • Both agree that Battlefield provides the greatest opportunity to improve with practice.
manova multiple analysis of variances

MANOVA (Multiple Analysis of Variances)

Comparison of Game vs. Game per Question

  • Sounds and graphics, type of game, visualizations, and improvement with practice were important aspects for the students in the games.
  • Top 3 preferred game genres:
    • RPG: Neverwinter Nights
    • Strategy: Age of Empires II
    • 1st Person Shooter: Battlefield 1942
  • Females preferred strategy games.
  • Males preferred role playing game.
conclusions cont
  • A mixture of these two genre (RPG and strategy) is a good possibility to apply in a successful game.
  • Game designs that have a strong structureand energy were preferred by students.
  • Students dislikeChemicus, the chemistry related game.
  • Chemicusdoes not use the best game playing elements.

Amory, A., Naicker, K., Vincent, J., & Adams, C. (1999). The use of computer games as an educational tool: identification of appropriate game types and game elements. British Journal of Educational Technology. 30 (4), 311-321.

Durkin, K & Barber, B. (2002). No so doomed: computer game play and positive adolescent development. Applied Developmental Psychology.23, 374-392.

Rieber, L. P. (1996). Seriously considering play: designing interactive learning environments based on the blending of microworlds, simulations, and games. Educational Technology, Research and Development. 44, 5-22.

  • New games need to be developed to address chemistry concepts.
  • Further studies need to be conducted to determine why Chemicus does not provide a learning environment for the students.
  • More work needs to be performed to identify the cognitive process of students when learning occurs with using PC games.