Student Example of Synthesis Matrix

How can video games help teach engineering to undergraduate college students? 

Video games can be an excellent way to teach engineering skills to undergraduate college students because:

Names of Authors The interactive features help reinforce important concepts learned in class and provide a unique tool to assess if students are understanding course content. Their innovative     hands-on approach to learning keeps the user entertained. The rendering capabilities help demonstrate difficult technical concepts that are difficult to illustrate otherwise.
Okutsu, M., & DeLaurentis, D., & Brophy, S., & Lambert, J  This article gives an explanation of the effects of the virtual 3D environments that are used coupled with avatars. It is shown that people respond every positively to the virtual world as a representation to themselves. This can keep them from thinking about their situation being a game and think more about the task that is given to them. In an aeronautics course study, the environments were set to simulate earth-like condition. This affected the outcome of different strategies that were performed, as the simulator would show the effects of the action with respect to the conditions. Often times the knowledge of the dynamics of an object is result of experience rather than simulation.
Mayo, M. 


Based on studies shown in the article it is known that the learning based video games can give instant feedback to the user. 

Instead of trying to learn something, then waiting for the teacher to grade a paper and hand it back, the user immediately knows what they are doing wrong. With the knowledge in mind, the user can then apply the necessary corrections and keep going with the correct state of mind.

This gives an example of the entertainment felt by the user on the video game. The games show exceptional signs of phenomenon known as a learning paradigm, which enthralls the user to do more with the information that is given to them. 

They can opt to branch out of the normal course of learning to explore other possibilities, “what happens when I do this?” type of approach can be observed.

Engineering concepts of programming can be observed when gamers are presented with a learning-game. 

Engineering students can retain the same amount of general information from a lecture as they do from a game. The deviation occurs with the finer details in numerical methods, in this case.


The students that played games had learned the material in a deeper, more complex manner than those in a typical lecture-based classroom.

Hoffman, L.  This sheds light on the games that are in development for the user to interact with the difficult concepts that are presented to them. They are looking to branch out from the typical game-style to give the gamer more freedom to see how things work by interacting with the game. Games are represented and praised by the community to show an enhanced from of teamwork and group determination coupled with goals setting. This is a very helpful skill for engineers because communication with others is key. 

The games have the user accomplish tasks, they are presented with the mission and they need to accomplish it. This lets the user think of their own ideas and actually put them into motion to help them win and stay entertained.

This lets the reader know that the mainstream has not yet acquired a large amount of high-level learning games. This doesn’t mean the community cannot get them; these games are currently in development. 

This article shows us that is indeed possible to demonstrate engineering concepts through a video game as opposed to the typical lecture-based classroom.

Collier, B., & Scott M.  The games allow gamers to jump right into the virtual world without any sort of help. They can learn the concepts without even using a manual in some cases. This teaches the students to think as they go. 

They use the environment to learn what they can and cannot do. This can help them learn about difficult concepts without putting them into the real world. This also shows that the gamers are given direct feedback from the game about whether or not they are doing something right. If they are doing it wrong, then they can act to improve, and they can advance when they are doing things right. This interactivity is beneficial to future engineers.

This further explains the concept of the entertained learner/gamer. Many of the learning based games offer the user a form of escapism from the outside world to do as they please in the fantasy world. 

The game also keeps the user entertained by setting different sorts of goals that the gamer feels compelled to accomplish, usually with the offering of an in-game reward to advance their personal progress within the game. It is important to keep the user enthralled within the game to ensure that they are actually learning the material.

This article also references the numerical method experiment that was also addressed by Mayo’s article. Showing the reader that the students were able to learn from the game. The results were stunning, showing that the gamers were able to remember more intricate details than the lecture-based students. Bu this also shows more with the study. The game showed a car that was going around a turn. The user needed to make the car going around the turn at different speeds cleanly and without skidding. This can be achieved numerically, but mainly off of the experience that is gained from playing the game.
Hauge, J., & Riedel, J.  This article provides examples of games that are sued. Both of these involve the important attribute of communication during the engineering design process. 

The games allow engineering students to control the design process fully and make important decisions from the computer. Based on the performance and score at the end of the game, the student can choose to make changes to improve their performance. This system of feedback and improvement helps the students tremendously.

The games shown demonstrate a key entertaining characteristic: control. 

The gamer is able to control virtually every aspect of their own design. This allows them to have fun with the game while learning.

The physical concepts of stress and strain are shown within the games during the design process portion of the gameplay. 

The engineers need to design a product that actually works. This can help prepare the engineers for the outside world because they need to learn cost-effective, efficient designs.

Reed, J., & Afjeh, A.  The gas turbine simulation allows the user to create their own turbine engine and observe its capabilities while allowing them to improve their design. This allows the user to stretch their creative mind and see what sorts of design are able to work and which ones do not. This form of open-ended design can help keep the user entertained. The concepts of heat transfer and airflow are difficult to imagine in the normal classroom setting. Teachers are able to draw arrows over poorly drawn images on the chalk board. But the best representation of a turbine engine is the engine itself with the principles of the heat transfer, air flow, and capabilities spelled out in front of the user. This can help them understand this concept ever better because they do not have to try and visualize it themselves, this allows them to focus all of their attention on the learning.
Deshpande, A., & Huang, S.  This tells and lists the benefits of the games with learning purposes through feedback. The video games give the user dynamic feedback to help them learn the concepts as they are learning them and get them through their trouble spots. 

Because the games help the students along through the concepts step-by-step, they turn the experience into a learning process rather than a repetitive drill.

The games offer many objective that the user is allowed to accomplish. They are able to observe a lush environment that the game has set up for them to observe the concepts as they are set in motion. This can help the user stay involved and entertained while still learning the concepts. 

Drilling and repetition are the best way to learn a  difficult concept, but the atmosphere of a game can help a student get through the drilling and repetition more easily because of the enjoyment of the game.

This article discusses the capabilities that are around today that can help describe the engineering concepts. 

This also points out the conceptual basis of many engineering concepts. Video games can illustrate concepts through animations and detailed environments instead of the failed visualization attempts of some teachers. This also helps young engineers realize the importance of some of these concepts. One of the hardest concepts to imagine in the eyes of an engineer is the purpose of a lot of the concepts that are taught.


Video games can fill in this missing piece of the puzzle by physically showing the concepts in action.

Mayo, M. (2)  This focuses on the games that are around in a more mainstream manner that can be turned toward a more educational scope. These games provide instant feedback which allows the gamer to know what they are doing wrong when they are doing it so they can correct their actions before they taint their mind with the wrong information. 

This is a common thread among the other sources because it is a common taint that is possessed by the video games that are played.

The gamer is very entertained by the video game that they are playing. It can be shown by the amount of time that they are playing the game. A big focus with the studies that are conducted with gaming students is the time they spend on a task that they are given. On average, more time was spent of the learning if the student was given a game to learn from rather than a textbook. 

This is because the student wants to actually learn the concepts so they can get better at the game. This is a new level of entertainment that can greatly benefit the student and the world.

Mathematical concepts are the backbone of the engineering world. Anything in engineering dynamics or design can be rooted back to some sort of mathematical formula. The video games discussed here show that the students who played certain video games showed improvement in these courses. 

These are hard to imagine concepts, but when they are all brought to life by a video game, the door of learning possibilities opens to the student.

Philpot, T., & Hubing, N., & Hall R., & Flori, R., & Oglesby, D., & Yellamraju, V.  The games are interactive by nature. The different stages of each game illustrates a certain task that needs to be completed. The user can figure out the answer and see if they are right or wrong. 

Based on the answer, the student is given more tries until they eventually get it right and continue to get the right answer. In some games the parts can be moved and experimented with, to see if there is any other way to solve the problem other than the mainstream way of solution. Because of this, abstract thinking is also involved.


All of this is done with the monitoring of the computer program, and a progress sheet that is handed to the instructor. With this, instant help can be achieved and areas of weakness can be pointed out, helping the student with their areas of distress.

The games illustrated by this article appear to be, at the very core, boring. They can keep the user’s attention only if they are devoted to the learning. Bu this can serve as a counter argument of a learning point for some. 

If the games need to be made more fun for the games, then they can be to help increase the enjoyment level by the user. But nevertheless the gamer is typically interested in the games for at least two play through. This is yet another example of the enjoyment by the gamer with the game presented.

Different areas of stress and strain for different objects is a very hard concept to teach because much of this deals with some sort of imaginary plane that is used to do calculations from. This plane is used as a base of the calculations, but many students have difficulties knowing where this lies. The games can help the student finding the plane by having them do it themselves. 

The repetition and score seeking helps the student understand the concepts. Through the course of the game, the student is introduced to harder variations of the problems and quickly becomes a master to the subject at hand.



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UNIV 200: Inquiry and the Craft of Argument, 006

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