Designing Physics Game to Support Inquiry Learning and to Promote Retrieval Practice

Danu Pranantha, Wei Chen, Francesco Bellotti, Erik Van Der Spek, Alessandro DeGloria, Matthias Rauterberg


Instruction in physics aims at achieving two goals: the acquisition of body of knowledge and problem solving skills in physics. This requires students to connect physical phenomena, physics principles, and physics symbols. Computer simulation provides students with graphical model that unites phenomenon and principles in physics. However, such minimally guided approach may harm learning since it overburdens the working memory. Also, simulation is inadequate in promoting problem solving skills since students need to exercise with a variety of physics problems. Intelligent tutoring systems (ITS), in contrast, train students in solving physics problems. In this paper, we designed an online puzzle game in physics that combines simulation and pseudo tutor (namely QTut). We addressed three challenges: extensibility, scalability, and reusability in designing our game. We conducted usability tests with 10 participants on the game prototype to study the user performances and perceptions for improvement. The results indicate the game as educative and moderately entertaining. The use of scaffolding in the game positively contributed to the game learning experience. Moreover, the game GUI expressed information well that made the game understandable, even with little instructions.


  1. Adams, W., Reid, S., and LeMaster, R. (2008a). A Study of Educational Simulations Part I-Engagement and Learning. Journal of Interactive Learning, 19(3):397- 419.
  2. Adams, W., Reid, S., and LeMaster, R. (2008b). A study of educational simulations Part IIInterface Design. Journal of Interactive Learning, 19(4):551-577.
  3. Adams, W. K., Paulson, A., Wieman, C. E., Henderson, C., Sabella, M., and Hsu, L. (2008c). What Levels of Guidance Promote Engaged Exploration with Interactive Simulations? In AIP Conference Proceedings, pages 59-62. Aip.
  4. Alfieri, L., Brooks, P. J., Aldrich, N. J., and Tenenbaum, H. R. (2011). Does discovery-based instruction enhance learning? Journal of Educational Psychology, 103(1):1-18.
  5. Bonestroo, W. J. and de Jong, T. (2012). Effects of planning on task load, knowledge, and tool preference: a comparison of two tools. Interactive Learning Environments, 20(2):141-153.
  6. Connolly, T. M., Boyle, E. a., MacArthur, E., Hainey, T., and Boyle, J. M. (2012). A systematic literature review of empirical evidence on computer games and serious games. Computers & Education, 59(2):661- 686.
  7. Elam, K. (2004). Grid Systems: Principles of Organizing Type (Design Briefs). Princeton Architectural Press, New York.
  8. Ferguson-hessler, M. G. M. and de Jong, T. (1991). A Model of the cognitive aspects of physics instruction. In AERA Annual Meeting, pages 3-7.
  9. Fu, F.-L., Su, R.-C., and Yu, S.-C. (2009). EGameFlow: A scale to measure learners enjoyment of e-learning games. Computers & Education, 52(1):101-112.
  10. Gijlers, H. and de Jong, T. (2013). Using Concept Maps to Facilitate Collaborative Simulation-Based Inquiry Learning. Journal of the Learning Sciences, 22(3):340-374.
  11. Heyworth, R. (1999). International Journal of Procedural and conceptual knowledge of expert and novice students for the solving of a basic problem in chemistry. International Journal of Science Education, 21(2):195-211.
  12. Johnstone, A. H. (1991). Why is science difficult to learn? Things are seldom what they seem. Computer Assisted Learning, 7(2):75-83.
  13. Jong, T. D. (2006). Technological Advances in Inquiry Learning. Science (New York, N.Y.), 312(5773):532- 3.
  14. Karpicke, J. D. and Blunt, J. R. (2011). Retrieval practice produces more learning than elaborative studying with concept mapping. Science (New York, N.Y.), 331(6018):772-5.
  15. Kiili, K. and Lainema, T. (2008). Foundation for measuring engagement in educational games. Journal of Interactive Learning Research, 19(3):469-488.
  16. Kirschner, P. and Clark, R. (2006). Work: An Analysis of the Failure of Constructivist, Discovery, ProblemBased, Experiential, and Inquiry-Based Teaching. Educational Psychologist, 41(2):75-86.
  17. Kolloffel, B. and de Jong, T. (2013). Conceptual understanding of electrical circuits in secondary vocational engineering education: Combining traditional instruction with inquiry learning in a virtual. Journal of Engineering Education, 102(3):375 - 393.
  18. Manning, C. D., Raghavan, P., and Schutze, H. (2008). Introduction to Information Retrieval. Cambridge University Press.
  19. McLaren, B., Lim, S., and Koedinger, K. (2008). When and how often should worked examples be given to students? New results and a summary of the current state of research. In B. C. Love, K. McRae, & V. M. Sloutsky (Eds.). In Love, B., editor, 30th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society, pages 2176- 2181.
  20. Perkins, K., Adams, W., Dubson, M., Finkelstein, N., Reid, S., Wieman, C., and LeMaster, R. (2006). PhET: Interactive Simulations for Teaching and Learning Physics. The Physics Teacher, 44(1):18.
  21. Podolefsky, N. S., Perkins, K. K., and Adams, W. K. (2010). Factors promoting engaged exploration with computer simulations. Physical Review Special Topics - Physics Education Research, 6(2).
  22. Pranantha, D., Bellotti, F., Berta, R., and DeGloria, A. (2012). A Format of Serious Games for Higher Technology Education Topics: A Case Study in a Digital Electronic System Course. In International Conference on Advanced Learning Technologies, pages 13- 17, Rome. IEEE.
  23. Rajaraman, A. and Ullman, J. D. (2011). Mining of Massive Datasets. Cambridge University Press.
  24. Salen, K. and Zimmerman, E. (2003). Rules of Play: Game Design Fundamentals. MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts.
  25. Vanlehn, K., Lynch, C., and Schulze, K. (2005). The Andes physics tutoring system: Lessons learned. International Journal of Artificial Intelligence in Education, 15(3):147-204.
  26. Wensveen, S. A. G., Djajadiningrat, J. P., and Overbeeke, C. J. (2004). Interaction frogger: a design framework to couple action and function through feedback and feedforward. In Designing interactive systems: processes, practices, methods, and techniques, pages 177-184, New York, NY, USA. ACM.
  27. Woolf, B. P. (2009). Building Intelligent Interactive Tutors for revolutionizing e-learning. Morgan Kaufmann, Amsterdam.
  28. Wouters, P., van Nimwegen, C., van Oostendorp, H., and van der Spek, E. D. (2013). A meta-analysis of the cognitive and motivational effects of serious games. Journal of Educational Psychology, 105(2):249-265.

Paper Citation

in Harvard Style

Pranantha D., Chen W., Bellotti F., Van Der Spek E., DeGloria A. and Rauterberg M. (2014). Designing Physics Game to Support Inquiry Learning and to Promote Retrieval Practice . In Proceedings of the 6th International Conference on Computer Supported Education - Volume 1: CSEDU, ISBN 978-989-758-020-8, pages 330-337. DOI: 10.5220/0004849103300337

in Bibtex Style

author={Danu Pranantha and Wei Chen and Francesco Bellotti and Erik Van Der Spek and Alessandro DeGloria and Matthias Rauterberg},
title={Designing Physics Game to Support Inquiry Learning and to Promote Retrieval Practice},
booktitle={Proceedings of the 6th International Conference on Computer Supported Education - Volume 1: CSEDU,},

in EndNote Style

JO - Proceedings of the 6th International Conference on Computer Supported Education - Volume 1: CSEDU,
TI - Designing Physics Game to Support Inquiry Learning and to Promote Retrieval Practice
SN - 978-989-758-020-8
AU - Pranantha D.
AU - Chen W.
AU - Bellotti F.
AU - Van Der Spek E.
AU - DeGloria A.
AU - Rauterberg M.
PY - 2014
SP - 330
EP - 337
DO - 10.5220/0004849103300337