The kids got game: Computer/video games, gender and learning outcomes in science classrooms
Janice Lyn Anderson, Boston College, United States
Boston College . Awarded
In recent years educators have begun to explore how to purposively design computer/video games to support student learning. This interest in video games has arisen in part because educational video games appear to have the potential to improve student motivation and interest in technology, and engage students in learning through the use of a familiar medium (Squire, 2005; Shaffer, 2006; Gee, 2005). The purpose of this dissertation research is to specifically address the issue of student learning through the use of educational computer/video games. Using the Quest Atlantis computer game, this study involved a mixed model research strategy that allowed for both broad understandings of classroom practices and specific analysis of outcomes through the themes that emerged from the case studies of the gendered groups using the game.
Specifically, this study examined how fifth-grade students learning about science concepts, such as water quality and ecosystems, unfolds over time as they participate in the Quest Atlantis computer game. Data sources included classroom observations and video, pre- and post-written assessments, pre- and post- student content interviews, student field notebooks, field reports and the field notes of the researcher. To make sense of how students learning unfolded, video was analyzed using a framework of interaction analysis and small group interactions (Jordan & Henderson, 1995; Webb, 1995). These coded units were then examined with respect to student artifacts and assessments and patterns of learning trajectories analyzed.
The analysis revealed that overall, student learning outcomes improved from pre- to post-assessments for all students. While there were no observable gendered differences with respect to the test scores and content interviews, there were gendered differences with respect to game play. Implications for game design, use of external scaffolds, games as tools for learning and gendered findings are discussed.
Anderson, J.L. The kids got game: Computer/video games, gender and learning outcomes in science classrooms. Ph.D. thesis, Boston College.
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