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Video-game training and naïve reasoning about object motion



Naïve conceptions and associated misconceptions about object motion arise in part from limitations on perceptual experience. Certain commercial video games, such as Enigmo, provide interactive experience with realistic trajectories and practice at purposefully manipulating those trajectories. We tested the possibility that this experience could modify naïve intuitions about object motion, bringing them into closer alignment with Newtonian principles of mechanics. Fifty-one middle-school children were randomly assigned to play either Enigmo or a strategy game for six sessions. Only the Enigmo group improved their ability to generate realistic trajectories, but this improvement was limited to learning about the general parabolic shape of trajectories. After training, both groups received a 30-minute tutorial on Newtonian principles which generated a much larger improvement in producing realistic trajectories than did game play. This improvement was of similar magnitude in both training groups, indicating that gaming experience provided no advantage in deriving benefits from direct instruction. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.