Teaching with strategic games: an interdisciplinary study with “Electric Field Hockey”

  • Jorge Fonseca Trindade Instituto Politécnico da Guarda, Guarda, Portugal
  • Teresa Fonseca Instituto Politécnico da Guarda, Guarda, Portugal
  • Lara Fonseca Trindade Instituto Politécnico da Guarda, Guarda, Portugal
Keywords: Strategic games, Electric Field Hockey, Physics, Sport


Introduction: Physics deal with abstract phenomenon that present some difficulty for students. Sport is an important bridge to link Physics concepts to known phenomena. Using games to learn has grown into a major focus of research over the last decade and provides a mechanism to immerse students in the study of strategic games and complex scientific concepts.

Objectives: The purpose of this study was to study the interdisciplinarity among Physics and Sport, using the simulation computer game “Electric Field Hockey” when compared to traditional classroom methods.

Methods: This study included 91 students: a control group (N=32), where traditional inquiry-based learning experiences were implemented and an experimental group (N=59) that plays “Electric Field Hockey”.

Results: Results of this study show that games can lead to positive learning outcomes, as demonstrated by the increase in test scores from pre- to post-assessment and the student interviews.

Conclusion: This study also suggests that a complementary approach, in which video games and hands-on activities are integrated, with each activity informing the other, could be a very powerful technique for supporting student scientific understanding. Further, our findings suggest that game designers should embed metacognitive activities such as reflective opportunities into educational video games in order to provide scaffolds for students and to reinforce that they are engaged in an educational learning experience.


Adams, W., Reid, S., LeMaster, R., McKagan, S., Perkins, K., Dubson, M., & Wieman, C. (2008). A study of educational simulations. Part I - Engagement and learning. Journal of Interactive Learning Research, 19, 397.

Bjælde, O., Pedersen, M., & Sherson, J. (2014). Gamification of Quantum Mechanics Teaching. World Conference on E-Learning in Corporate, Government, Healthcare, and Higher Education, 218-222.

Bork, A. (1981). Learning with Computers. Digital Press: Massachusetts.

Clement, J. (2008). Creative model construction in scientists and students: the role of imagery, analogy, and mental simulation. Amherst, MA: Springer.

Garris, R., Ahlers, R., & Driskell, J. (2002). Games, motivation, and learning: A research and practice model. Simulation & Gaming, 33(4), 441–467.

McCloskey, M. (1983). Intuitive Physics. Scientific American, 249, 114-117.

McDermott, L. (1984). Research on conceptual understanding in Mechanics. Physics Today, 37, 24-31.

Miller, A. (2000). Insights of Genius: Imagery and Creativity. Science and Art. MIT Press: New York.

PhET (2018). “Electric Field Hockey”. Retrieved from: https://phet.colorado.edu/en/simulation/electric-hockey .

Education and Social Development Sciences