Strong interest in the academic ramifications of video game play isn’t reflected in extensive investigation of those ramifications among children and adolescents (Blumberg, Rosenthal, & Randall, 2008; De Lisi & Wolford, 2002; Papastergiou, 2009) .
Demonstrations of transfer from games, even educational games, to more traditional academic tasks remains elusive (see Mayer & Johnson, 2010) .
Educational games used in the classroom not routinely appreciated by their intended audience (see Tüzün, 2007; Van Eck, 2006) .
What should we do?
First, identify what it is that children and adolescents do during video game play; that is, what cognitive skills do they use when they play video games and how might they coordinate their those skills as they play.
Second, examine how children and adolescents characterize what it is that they do during video game play and how they might view that behavior as comparable to what they do in school.
What have we done?
Blumberg & Ismailer (2008) asked their 5 th -7 th grade participants to think aloud while playing an off-the-shelf video game for 20 minutes.
Students characterized as frequent (played 3 or more times a week) or infrequent (play twice a week or less) players.
► game oriented (i.e., game strategies; mechanics/rules, progress, background knowledge);
► affective (i.e., performance evaluations); and ►contextual (i.e., experimental setting).
What did we find?
Most comments referred to progress while playing the game. This finding comparable to that found among an adult sample (Blumberg, Rosenthal, & Randall, 2008).
Older children made fewer goal comments & more game mechanics and progress comments than younger children.
Frequent players made greater reference to winning the game than infrequent players.
What did we find?
5th graders made less reference to insight over time; frequent players made greater reference to their game performance than infrequent players.
6th graders made greater reference to process goals over time; frequent players made less reference to their game performance than infrequent players.
7th graders made greater references to game progress over time; frequent players made more reference to impasses and insight than infrequent players.
What are we doing?
We have convened at least one focus group of frequent players and one of infrequent players for each of 4th-8th grade, with the exception of 6 th grade.
Based on their self-reports and that of their parents, children were identified as frequent or infrequent players.
Each group contained males and females to the extent possible.
What did we ask participants?
The primary focus group questions included:
What do you like most about playing video games?
What do you do when you’re first learning how to play a new video game?
What happens when you get stuck in a video game?
What happens when you get stuck on a problem in school?
How are problems in video games similar to problems in schoolwork?
Composition of Focus Groups Grade Frequent Infrequent 4 th Group 4a1: M age = 10.47; SD = 1.29; N = 5 (4 boys; 1 girl) Group 4a2: M age = 10.40; SD = .26; N = 4 (3 boys; 1 girl) Group 4b: M age = 9.82; SD = .30; N = 5 (2 boys; 3 girls) 5th Group 5a1: M age = 10.93; SD = .63; N = 6 (4 boys; 2 girls) Group 5a2: M age = 10.92; SD = .27; N = 7 (5 boys; 2 girls) Group 5b: M age = 10.79; SD =.62; N =6 (6 girls) 6th Group 6a: M age = 11.69; SD = .40; N = 5 (1 boy; 4 girls) _________________________ 7th Group 7a: M age = 12.66; SD = .49; N = 6 (4 boys; 2 girls) Group 7b: M age = 13.16; SD = .30; N = 6 (2 boys; 4 girls) 8th Group 8a1: M age = 13.64; SD = .15; N = 5 (4 boys; 1 girl) Group 8a2 = M age = 13.34; SD = .36; N =6 (6 boys) Group 8b: M age = 14.08; SD = .26; N = 7(3 boys; 4 girls)
How was the data collected?
Focus groups were convened with one research assistant leading the group and one or two research assistants taking notes. Groups ran 35-45 minutes.
Comments from all groups were audio-taped and transcribed verbatim. The transcripts then were reviewed and corrected by another reader as necessary.
Three independent reviewers read each finalized transcript and noted specific themes in response to the major prompts.
Those themes noted by all three reviewers were then included in the final analysis of the data.
What have we found?
Independent of frequency of play, students in most grades saw video game play and school work as involving learning on some level. However, students in most grades viewed video game play as “fun” as opposed to school work.
Students in most grades noted seeking help when stuck when playing video games or in a problem at school.
Notably, frequent players identified more sources that they would seek or help when stuck in a video game than infrequent players.
What have we found?
Notably, frequent players across most grades were inclined to cite renewal of effort when encountering problems in school (i.e. keep trying, re-read notes) as opposed to infrequent players.
Independent of frequency of play, students in all grades cited trial and error as how they approached a video game they had yet to play. Across most grades, seeking of help also noted.
Major themes by frequency of play Prompt Themes Frequent Infrequent What do you like most about playing video games?
Allow for help seeking; control of difficulty level – 7 th Grade;
Require practice – 8 th Grade
Entail excitement not allowed for in school activities – 4 th Grade
School activities graded – 4 th Grade
Consequences of actions (No penalties; Quitting )– 4 th & 5 th Grade; Violence – 8 th Grade)
Games are fun – 4 th & 6 th , & 7 th Grade
Video game affordances (freedom to choose problems/puzzles within games, no time limits, low stakes as compared to school) – 7 th Grade
Educational- 4 th & 5 th Grade
Strategic – 7 th Grade
Seek help & improve with practice – 8 th Grade
Consequences of actions (games not real) – 4 th & 8 th Grade
Authority (i.e. no “teacher” in game) – 4 th Grade
Games are fun – 5 th Grade
School problems harder – 7 th Grade
Video game affordances (control of pace, difficulty level) – 7 th Grade
Austin Alhindawi John Randall Allie Schwartz Special thanks to: Austin Alhindawi, Sabrina Ismailer, Tara Gartner, Patty Gil-Diaz, Brittney Huntington, Brian Kelley, Ryan McGuiness, John Randall, Brigid Raughley, Allie Schwartz, Jess Williams, and Scott Woerner.