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Using Dungeons and Dragons to Integrate Curricula in an Elementary Classroom

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Abstract

This chapter outlines the creation and implementation of a third-grade student-initiated, teacher-directed game design project. The project was initially undertaken to address challenges faced within the classroom, including students’ lack of interest and confidence in math and the math program itself. The students decided that they would like to adapt Dungeons and Dragons for their classroom project, which presented a unique opportunity to integrate the content and skill objectives in math, social studies, and writing into the design and play of the game. Students decided which elements of the game to adapt, what steps to take to achieve these goals, and how to play their game. The teacher provided materials, asked questions, and assessed the students’ progress to ensure that these cross-curricula goals were achieved. While all of the students benefited from engaging with this project, significant positive outcomes were observed in many students who struggled in math, reading, writing, and social interaction.

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... Implementing the use of the game with young children brings us to reflect on the role of D&D as an education tool. There are several studies showing how to use D&D to integrate curricula in elementary schools [3] or in higher grades [22]. Since the restrictions due to the COVID-19 lockdown made it impossible to physically meet at the table to play, the case study described in the following Section required the use of an online platform to run a D&D 5e adventure for the educational experience we are discussing in this paper. ...
... Since the restrictions due to the COVID-19 lockdown made it impossible to physically meet at the table to play, the case study described in the following Section required the use of an online platform to run a D&D 5e adventure for the educational experience we are discussing in this paper. Therefore, we decided to use Roll20, 3 probably the most used online virtual tabletop to play D&D. Roll20 was already used before the pandemic events of 2020, but its number of users peaked in the first half of 2020 [7], as a consequence of the lockdowns. ...
Chapter
In this work, we present the results of a role-playing game experience carried out with a group of 9- to 12-year-old children during the COVID-19 emergence. The ‘harmony in education’ approach has been used to adapt the game design to the constraints imposed by the online context and the young age of the students involved. The results show the effectiveness of the approach in terms of 21st-century skills training with particular evidence on perspective-taking.
... In more modern contexts, the well-known game Monopoly (Magie and Darrow, 1935) is thought to have over 1500 variants (Horton, 2003), and the My Monopoly version (Darrow, 2014) encourages players to alter most aspects of the game to create their own unique Monopoly game. Boards games and hobby games have even been altered for pedagogical applications such as adapting Dungeons and Dragons (Gygax and Arneson, 1974) to teach maths, social studies, literature and writing in elementary school (Carter, 2011), or altering the board game CO₂ (Lacerda, 2012) to teach climate policy at a university (Castronova and Knowles, 2015). However, it was during the early 1990s that modding culture would take hold in the digital games community. ...
Article
This article explores the use of modding as a formal tool for learning history. The article examines data from a formal analysis of Europa Universalis IV (EUIV), a survey of 331 EUIV forum participants and a case study of 18 university participants. Significant quantitative survey data indicated that 45% (149/331) of participants had modified EUIV, and of the 125 participants who responded with comments about modding, a significant number (86/125 responses or 68.8%) explained how they had learnt about history, geography or other subjects through the modding process. Closer analysis of survey and case study responses and mods reveals the variety of ways participants learnt and critiqued history through the modding process. The article discusses the data and the pedagogical affordance of modding in a few steps. First, the article briefly explores the evidence that indicates modding is popular within the EUIV gaming community. In this instance, it examines whether given the popularity of gaming practice, modding might also be seen as a new casual form of engagement with games. Second, the article reviews the modding process in EUIV and examines how both playing and creating mods may be beneficial for learning history. Modding is examined in terms of its pedagogical importance and the unique educational opportunities it may offer that are not otherwise accessible through other forms of game-based learning. Finally, the article explores how and what the case study participants learnt when they were tasked with creating and implementing playable mods to demonstrate their understanding of history. Overall, the article considers the growing importance of mods, how learners can create and represent history using mods and how mods can provide a platform for learners to develop their own critique and analysis of official history.
Conference Paper
In this paper we describe the use of 3D games technology in human anatomy education based on our MSc in Medical Visualisation and Human Anatomy teaching practice, i.e. students design and develop serious games for anatomy education using the Unity 3D game engine. Students are engaged in this process not only as consumers of serious games, but as authors and creators. The benefits of this constructionist learning approach are discussed. Five domains of learning are identified, in terms of what anatomy students, tutors, and final users (players) can learn through serious games and their development process. We also justify the 3D engine selected for serious game development and discuss main obstacles and challenges to the use of this constructionist approach to teach non-computing students. Finally, we recommend that the serious game construction approach can be adopted in other academic disciplines in higher education.
Article
The theoretical framework of Vygotsky entails specific understandings of learning, development, and the goal(s) of development. In Vygotsky’s usage, the term obuchenie, frequently translated as ‘learning’, more accurately indicates the interaction of teacher and student. Although the various domains (phylogenesis, sociocultural history, ontogenesis, and microgenesis) to which Vygotsky extended the concept of development have differing dynamics, the course of development within each domain is characterized by the transformative effects of cultural tools (mediational means) upon their users. Vygotsky posited a form of abstract rationality associated with decontextualization, a semiotic potential inherent in all human languages, as an ideal endpoint (telos) of development. Evidence that Vygotsky at times assumed the existence of another telos, corresponding to the semiotic potential of contextualization, has implications for a potential developmental account of heterogeneity in human mental functioning.
Article
The paper explores the opportunities and challenges of learning and teaching mathematics in the information era from a Vygotskian perspective. A systemic approach is taken to an investigation of the ways in which information technologies have changed the contexts for and forms of mathematical activity in society and the challenge that this change presents to mathematics educators at all levels.
Article
This article reviews the literature that compares the instructional effectiveness of games to conventional classroom instruction. Studies dealing with empirical research rather than teachers'judgments are reviewed. Published reviews of research in English dating from 1963 to 1984 were examined and the literature was searched for studies from 1984 to 1991. Of the 67 studies considered over a period of 28 years, 38 show no difference between games and conventional instruction; 22 favor games; 5 favor games, but their controls are questionable; and 3 favor conventional instruction. Results for social sciences, math, language arts, logic physics, biology, retention over time, and interest are examined. Math is the subject area with the greatest percentage of results favoring games, but only eight studies have adequate controls. Thirty-three out of 46 social science games/simulations show no difference between games/simulations and classroom instruction. The authors conclude that subject matter areas where very specific content can be targeted are more likely to show beneficial effects for gaming.
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