A computer adventure game as a worthwhile educational experience

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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. ...
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). ...
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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. ...
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.
Criteria for the selection of a computer adventure game were established following an investigation into students' use of computer adventure games in a secondary school. The development of one piece of educational software, based on these criteria, is described. The importance of improving educators' abilities to select appropriate software by the identification of appropriate criteria in a context-based evaluation is stressed in a time of devolution and fiscal restraint.
Upper elementary school classrooms in four school field sites were visited weekly during a nine-month academic year to study student social behavior during computer instruction. Conclusions were drawn concerning roles played within student-initiated problem solving groups, role differentiation by sex, and apparent effects of computers on students' value structures.
The effects of computer-assisted cooperative, competitive, and individualistic instruction were compared on achievement, student-student interaction, and attitudes. Seventy-four eighth-grade students were randomly assigned to conditions, stratifying for sex and ability. Computer-assisted cooperative instruction promoted greater quantity and quality of daily achievement, more successful problem solving, more task-related student-student interaction, and increased the perceived status of female students.
Describes a curriculum program designed to encourage sixth-grade students to think about issues from a variety of perspectives and make informed decisions. Discusses the incorporation of computer software from the "Decisions, Decisions" series into the instructional process. Outlines the components of the curriculum, provides an evaluation of the software, and presents samples of students' comments about the decision-making experience. (TW)
Describes one child's experiences with learning to compose at the computer to illustrate how children have no preconceived expectations and are content to learn the computer's functions as the need arises. Advocates a classroom environment in which children are free to explore the computer's potential at their own pace. (HTH)
Reviews benefits of using cooperative learning strategies and computer assisted instruction (CAI) in classrooms with mainstreamed students; describes teacher's role in implementing cooperative learning; presents examples demonstrating potential of cooperative learning and CAI in language and social skills development; and outlines steps in creating a cooperative classroom for mainstreaming. (MBR)
In evaluating a private school's incorporation of computers into the curriculum the researcher noted that the use of drill-and-practice programs taught students that computers are boring. They did not get any understanding of the varied uses for computers. (MD)
This paper discusses several interrelated issues that concern four Canadian elementary school teachers who expect to be asked to introduce computer literacy into existing curriculums in the near future. Topics addressed include: (1) how teachers fit computer instruction into their existing practices; (2) status of the subject in their school; (3) principal's attitude toward the educational value of computer awareness activities; (4) ways in which teachers actually use computers (computer awareness, programming, etc.); (5) methods of computer education, including the "teach yourself" method; (6) student reactions to computer instruction, including specific software packages; (7) teacher opinion about the demands of teaching a separate computer subject; and (8) teacher needs, e.g., more time to prepare, adequate hardware, support personnel. Problems of integrating computer experiences into the curriculum are addressed and five questions are presented which illustrate the difficulty of establishing computer literacy courses in the elementary school. Finally, the topics of teacher education and preparedness are discussed, and an agenda for teacher education is proposed. It is suggested that teacher education and curriculum are closely tied, and that how the computer is conceptualized as a subject in the elementary school will have an important bearing on the agenda that is set for teacher education. A list of references is attached. (JB)
An examination of the value of using more sophisticated computer programs in the language arts program led to the design and development of "Thinking Networks," which provide the teacher with a new tool for teaching through nonverbal representation. Using microcomputers to improve reading and writing instruction can incorporate the holistic approach to language learning, which emphasizes (1) the comprehending and composing of words, sentences, and paragraphs within the context of a complete discourse; (2) the synthesis of thinking; and (3) the use of language within real social contexts. The "Think Network Program" consists of software with which students can interact and, in keeping with the newest efforts to enhance the development of problem-solving, uses a graphic approach leading students to understand how a text is organized. It also ensures that students read complete stories or content area selections before booting up the disk. The comprehension work completed during network building shows students how the major and minor ideas of a reading selection are related. Other emerging holistic software programs are also requiring students to deal with whole units of text and to use decision-making, evaluation, and synthesis skills. (JK)
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