Serious Games: an Educational Tool to Enhance Learning
On the November 29, a team of Master’s degree researchers from Roskilde University implemented ‘The Future of Learning Game’ as a part of a bigger research on the application of Serious Games as an educational tool to enhance learning. The research was done through a focus group of four individuals, who were selected based on their age group and occupation (solely students). The research took place in Copenhagen, Denmark and lasted about 90 minutes, in which participants played the game in pairs and then were invited to have a group discussion. The discussions were monitored and then analysed to see how participants utilised the game as a platform of knowledge sharing and exchange. The overall responses were positive, with a consensus on the importance of peer-to-peer learning that was facilitated by the game.
For the purpose of analysing empirical data gathered from the focus group, the team used the following theories:
Game-based Learning Theory – This theory focuses on gaming features that can enhance learning. By studying and investigating what factors are at play when a user is engaged in gameplay, the researchers could observe how these factors motivate or discourage users from learning in a game.
Social Learning and Social Cognitive Theory – These two theories are derived from a broader social context on learning, in which Gamoteca caters for as well (discussion and peer-to-peer learning). By looking at elements such as reinforcements, user expectations, abilities and skills, researchers were able to narrow down what elements affect users’ way of learning and how knowledge exchange is done as a part of learning socially.
Experiential Theory – This theory is based on a meaningful, non-academic learning style, which puts an emphasis on how learning is lifelong and not restricted to academic classroom setting only. It is also closely related to the theory above, as it highlights the importance of human modification and adaptation to the world around them, to create a synergy of a person and their environment. Furthermore, it covers the process of how new knowledge could be used as a concrete experience to develop skills.
Engagement Theory – Engagement theory probes different engagement levels of learning and the factors that affect them. For instance, in the case of serious gaming, a technical difficulties can result in less engagement level (due to disruptions) and therefore affect the learning outcome of a serious game.
By combining these four theories into the analysis of the game and focus group, the researchers were able to detect patterns and re-occurring factors throughout the empirical data, and via thematic analysis managed to focus the findings on frameworks that are seen as the most essential factors of learning through serious games.
The overall experience was very positive and the research team could effectively derive, process and analyse the empirical data collected from gameplay. The results of this research contribute to the development of communication and education research by combining aspects and factors of learning and technology.