Article

A computer adventure game as a worthwhile educational experience

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Abstract

Computers are typically utilized in schools and classrooms in two distinct ways. Either they are employed as part of a program aimed at teaching about computers or they are an integral part of the learning program of the classroom. Eaton and Olson designate these modes of utilization as "computer as subject and computer as an instructional tool" (1986, p. 342). Adventure games have become a popular form of educational software used in both of these situations. Fasano notes that "computer games and curriculum for problem-solving are burgeoning areas in education and seem to be promising, [although] time and research investments will tell" (1988, p. 59). The study reported here is part of this research investment, for it focusses upon the potential of an adventure game to provide worthwhile learning experiences. This investigation is also part of a wider study of the language used by students and teachers when a computer is part of the learning environment. In the study an adventure game was used as a vehicle for the exploration of classroom talk. This paper examines aspects of the game itself as well as teachers' and students' talk in order to provide a basis for making judgments about the educational worth of the learning experiences which the game was able to open up for the students. This is a case study, and hence no claims of a generalizable nature are made. Rather, through the examination of the worth of this game as a learning experience, criteria are developed which are pertinent to the evaluation

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... In addition to claims about the development of problem solving skills, other assertions about the advantages of using adventure games are also advanced in the literature. They include claims that experience at adventures results in improved language skills (Cavallari, 1992;Grundy, 1991;Heron, 1987;Rice, 1985). There are also claims that social skills are developed by cooperative group efforts to solve adventures (Craig et al., 1987;Heron, 1987;Sherwood, 1988;Thompson and Duncan, 1988). ...
... However, these informal information exchanges are likely to be less effective than instruction by an informed teacher (one who knew what strategies worked and what knowledge was required). Grundy (1991) made the observation that the benefits of adventure games were more potential than actual, and proposed several reasons for the failure of the games to fulfil their promise. These reasons related to the lack of adequate support material to assist teachers in their instruction. ...
... Reference has been made to the Grundy's (1991) work in which she found that an adventure game did not fulfil its potential, and to the fact that the students in this study had not received instruction. Gick and Holyoak (1980) reported that students did not always use relevant knowledge that they had. ...
Thesis
To investigate claims that, through exposure to computer-based adventure games children will develop general problem-solving skills, 40 students were monitored as they played a novel adventure game. The subjects varied on adventure game experience and on other relevant measures. While students played the game, their moves were recorded on disk, and they generated verbal protocols. Their protocols were transcribed and analysed for evidence of strategy use. Their performance on the task was assessed, and, using partial least squares path analysis, a performance model incorporating experience, verbal ability, schema, and strategy use was developed. The data gathered and the model developed are used to reflect on the claims for enhanced problem-solving skill following use of these programs.
... The area of problem-solving is often linked to adventure games and the idea is very popular among teachers, journalist, parents, players and researchers in relation to adventure games (Greenfield, 1984;Herring, 1984;Whitebread, 1997). Problem-solving has received much constant research attention over the years (Curtis, 1992;Greenfield, 1984;Grundy, 1991;Jillian et al., 1999;Kirriemuir & McFarlane, 2002;Ko, 2002;Pillay, Brownlee, & Wilss, 1999;Quinn, 1997;Walker de Felix & Johnson, 1993;Whitebread, 1997). Most of these studies are not very solid, but the general conclusion in the best performed studies relate problem-solving to computer games. ...
... Another study answering the call for studying educational use of computer games is by Shirley Grundy (1991), and interestingly she is studying the same game, namely Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego. She examines the game through mainly qualitative methods, focusing on student competences and student decision-making processes. ...
... You can say that students lived up to the principles for playing the game -complete the assignments as fast as possible not thinking about the educational goals (Healy, 1999;Magnussen & Misfeldt, 2004). Another game design might have changed, this but the suggestion by Grundy (1991) that the game should have mechanisms that drew on information presented earlier in the game is not easily implemented. A computer game consists of a quite basic gameplay and it is almost impossible to get even a fraction of the background information to have a bearing on the game. ...
... Page 196 Wednesday, August 23, 2006 9:08 AM overview of research on the educational use of video games 197 the skills to learning are important. Problem-solving has received much research attention over the years (Curtis, 1992;Gee, 2003;Greenfield, 1984;Grundy, 1991;Jillian et al., 1999;Kirriemuir & McFarlane, 2002;Ko, 2002;McFarlane et al., 2002;Pillay et al., 1999;Quinn, 1997;Walker de Felix & Johnson, 1993;Whitebread, 1997). Most of these studies connect problem-solving with video games. ...
... Students put the game goals above the learning goals. This points to the major challenge of finding game designs that can make learning and playing work together, or, at least, not one against the another (Egenfeldt-Nielsen, 2005;Grundy, 1991;Healy, 1999;Magnussen & Misfeldt, 2004). ...
... This is true particularly for the commercial entertainment titles that find their way into educational settings which have not been developed with curriculum explicitly in mind. The problem is that if we rely too much on teachers we may be disappointed by their reluctance to engage with games and their lacking knowledge of how to use games (Cavallari et al., 1992;Egenfeldt-Nielsen, 2005;Grundy, 1991;Klawe, 1998;Squire, 2004). ...
Article
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This paper overviews research on the educational use of video games by examining the viability of the different learning theories in the field, namely behaviorism, cognitivism, constructionism and the socio-cultural approach. In addition, five key tensions that emerge from the current research are examined: 1) Learning vs. playing, 2) freedom vs. control, 3) drill-and-practice games vs. microworlds, 4) transmission vs. construction, 5) teacher intervention vs. no teacher intervention.
... In a study on Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego, Grundy (1991) examines the potential educational use of video games. She lists the educational experience that the game is able to provide as: Among Grundy´s findings is that the game itself is not enough to increase familiarity with computers to a great extent, the game and its controls are too simple. ...
... This is emphasized by Fostikov (2006) where she examines if the game is trustworthy or not, stating that the game can not only potentially educate the player, it is also capable of misleading him. As Grundy (1991) found that students generally believed all the information that the game provided. Egenfeldt-Nielsen finds in relation to this that some students absolutely reject all the information the game provides. ...
... With regards to using a game to teach history we are facing some problems, the biggest being the question of whether the games are accurate enough. Earlier research seems to show that players often do not trust the game or have too much trust in the game (Grundy 1991, Egenfeldt-Nielsen, 2005. There is however some evidence that games do evoke an interest in history, although Squire (2005) notes that participants in his study did not put much effort into pursuing that interest. ...
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Vychází za podpory programu EU Culture 2000 Vydáno u příležitosti výstav konaných v "Sweden, 28th April - 3rd May 2006, Municipality Library, Vara Kommun, Spain, 19th - 31st May 2006, a Picolta, Mazaricos, Holland, 2nd June 2006, Den Helder, Portugal, 19th - 22nd June 2006, Cine-Teatro de Arraiolos, Arraiolos, Czech Republic, 17th June - 30th August 2006, Castle in Chanovice, Italy, 15th July - 16th July 2006, Palazzo Cigola-Martinoni, Cigole FINAL EVENT"--Rub tit. s.
... In computer games, players can acquire or construct (depending on the theoretical starting point) contents, skills and attitudes by mastering the game world that from the outside may look relatively simple. Playing a computer game is fast-paced, skill-driven, flexible, analytic, engaged, social and requires a range of competences (Betz, 1995;Brown, 1997;Egenfeldt-Nielsen, 2003;Grundy, 1991;Jenkins & Squire, 2003). ...
... The educational perspective has consistently found learning outcomes to be less straight forward than one might initially think. Studies show that players will often not learn more than playing a computer game, even though a computer game may involve extensive geographic knowledge and thinking (e.g., Grundy, 1991). What I find intriguing is that educators have a very hard time using computer games for education, owing to at least three key characteristics of computer games and learning. ...
... A similar kind of 'context-bound' evaluation has been published by Grundy (1991), who investigated the use of the courseware, with a group of Year 3/4 and a Year 6 group in two small, rural schools in Australia. In this study, "The students were recorded as they worked through the game in naturalistic classroom situations" (p. ...
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The purpose of this study is to explore the relationship of playfulness factors of electronic games and the participation and sustainability of e-learning. This research adopted focus group interviews to identify the playfulness factors, and in-depth interviews to inquire the application of these factors into e-learning design. This paper ends with a discussion including: (1) the definition of six playfulness factors of electronic game including positive feeling, negative feeling, interpersonal communication, virtual & real communication, and psychology, and others; (2) the effect of playfulness factors applied to e-learning participation and sustainability; (3) the appropriateness of applying playfulness factors into e-learning design; and (4) the design suggestion for the game-based learning.
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