Patterns of Physics Reasoning in Face-to-Face and Online Forum Collaboration Around a Digital Game

Grant Van Eaton, Douglas B. Clark, Blaine E. Smith
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Students playing digital learning games in the classroom rarely play alone, even in digital games that are ostensibly “single-player” games. This study explores the patterns of physics reasoning that emerge in face-to-face and online forum collaboration while students play a physics-focused educational game in their classroom. We observed five increasing levels of explicit articulation of physics reasoning across interactions in the face-to-face and online forum interactions.  Additionally, we found that students were much more likely to explicitly articulate formal physics reasoning in their online forum interactions than they were in their face-to-face interactions. We discuss multiple possible explanations for these patterns of articulation in terms of differences in timing of interactions, affordances of medium, classroom scripts, and social norms. The findings and discussion extend our understanding of the structuring and contributions of peer interactions to student learning in digital learning environments in the classroom.

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Van Eaton, G., Clark, D.B., & Smith, B.E. (2015). Patterns of physics reasoning in face-to-face and online forum collaboration around a digital game. International Journal of Education in Mathematics, Science and Technology, 3(1), 1-13.

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