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Lesson 1: Track B Summaries

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Schedule   ::   Lesson 1   ::   Track A Summaries   ::   Track B Summaries

Virvou, Katsionis, & Manos, Combining software games with education: Evaluation of its educational effectiveness

Reading summary/quotes:

This article describes a study in which students were allowed to play a video game that taught geography. The study was a two part evaluation comparing an Intelligent Tutoring System (ITS) to a game using the same pedagogical engine underneath. Both parts used a pre-test versus post-test comparison of learners using both the ITS and game. The first part of the evaluation used a random sample from one school. The second part used a stratified random sample from a second group. The stratification for the second group was based on prior performance in the academic subject being studied. The end result was that the students who played the video game did better than students who used the ITS computer program (drill and practice). Students who struggled in class tended to do better using the video game than those students who are doing well in class.

“The process of learning is a very complex cognitive task that can be very imposing on students (p. 54).”

“Brody points out that the marriage of education and game-like entertainment has produced some not-very-educational games and some not very-entertaining learning activities (p. 54).”

“One could argue that the greatest advantage of games is the motivation provided to students by the game environment whereas one possible disadvantage for the learning cprocecss could be the students' distraction by this game environment (p. 57).”

“School children usually have a preconception of educational means as being totally different from entertainment... An entertaining aspect of education would be rather unexpected (p. 57).”

"However, despite the fact that all students had liked the game in the context of their classroom work, a large part of them criticized the game in comparison with other commercial games (p. 63).”

Discussion points/questions:

  • The author seems to want to make the point that learning is not fun, and a very difficult task. it is 'going to school' that is not very fun, and a very difficult task. Learning is very different than going to school. So we've made school not fun, then told the children that this is 'learning' (so now learning isn't fun), and then we are trying to turn around and make school fun. Seems like we are running in circles.
  • Is this really a good way to teach geography? Playing a game that really has nothing to do with geography, but then geography questions pop up. Why not have a simulation that actually applies to geography. The game is too far removed from the subject matter.
  • The author states that the game seems to help with 'plausible reasoning', but nothing in the game supports that at all.
  • Did the children like the game because it was fun, or because it was better than school? How long would it take before the children became bored with this game?
  • The report never states how much time was spent with each program, though they did mention that the children who were in the lower levels, tended to be off task more using the control program. So were they better simply because they spent more time with VR-ENGAGE?
  • How does motivation tie to this? Is motivation good simply because students spend more time, or because that somehow helps them to learn better? How long with the motivation last, if students don't think this game is as fun as commercial games?
  • Is this game only affective when 'school' is the alternative? In other words, do we need to place the children in a bad situation, so that a bad game looks good by comparison?
  • How much of the overall effect is due to novelty?
  • Do games provide a constant novelty effect?
  • Do we drain the curiosity out of children in the factory-model school, and by introducing games are simple removing them from the factory-model school and allowing them to follow their curiosity?
  • Do games provide a more individualized version of ZPD?

Contributors: Tom Caswell, Marion Jensen, Jennifer Jorgensen, Jon Scoresby, and Tim Stowell
Copyright 2008, by the Contributing Authors. Cite/attribute Resource . admin. (2008, May 20). Lesson 1: Track B Summaries. Retrieved January 07, 2011, from Free Online Course Materials — USU OpenCourseWare Web site: This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License Creative Commons License
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