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Dissertation Reviews
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Dissertation Reviews

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  • 1. Introduction Game-based learning in technology-infused classrooms is gaining momentum and popularity in the 21st Century classroom as benefits are found in student engagement and motivation. I have become more and more interested in this topic as I try to incorporate additional technology into my classroom, especially by finding ways to engage my students and make their learning more meaningful. I am searching for ways to incorporate more game-based learning and technology into my classroom that are relevant and enjoyable for my students. There are quite a few dissertations about game-based learning, but I selected dissertations that focused directly on the benefits of game-based learning and its ability to engage young learners. Dissertation #1 What's in a game's name?: Task framing, learning, and enjoyment in an educational game Brandon, R. (2013). What's in a game's name? Task framing, learning, and enjoyment in an educational game. (Order No. 1543696, Arizona State University). ProQuest Dissertations and Theses, , 77. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/ 1431981572?accountid=13965. (1431981572). Summary Brandon designed a study to explore the influence of activities on the expectations of learning and enjoyment along with performance on an identification task. The study consisted of multiple experiments. The first study had 80 students playing activities that were designated as “play only,” “learning only,” or “educational game” tasks. The study concluded that play frame had a positive impact pre-activity, but no significance by the end of the activity. Conversely, students who played the educational game scored “significantly higher” on the post assessment. The results also suggest that framing educational games can engage students in learning without distraction. The same students were involved in a second study, focusing on enjoyment and learning—with no correlation between framing and reported enjoyment. There was a significant interaction between performance and activity type, engaging students in learning. Review This study confirms data that I have read from other research studies—game-based learning has a positive impact on student engagement. The study also found that students who were engaged in learning-based games scored higher on their post assessments, suggesting that games can help reinforce content that is covered in the classroom. This is a very recent study, but I feel that the data would still vary based
  • 2. upon school demographics—this study focused on a school in which every single child has a computer at home, whereas that would not be the case if you surveyed my school. It would be interesting to see how that data changes. Dissertation #2 Gaming their way: Learning in simulation strategy video games? Foster, A. N. (2009). Gaming their way: Learning in simulation strategy video games? (Order No. 3381242, Michigan State University). ProQuest Dissertations and Theses, , 248-n/a. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/ 304946067?accountid=13965. (304946067). Summary Foster uses a mixed-methods study to investigate how and when students learn by playing simulation strategy games. His study focused on 26 children playing a simulation game, RollerCoaster Tycoon 3: Platinum to reinforce economics and social studies principals. The study also focused on how the students developed information and technology literacy—as well as how these skills apply to new contexts. The students involved in the survey reported that they valued learning economics and social studies through engagement in games. The game play was individualized and players played in two different ways, as goal seekers or explorers, influencing the ways the students processed the learning. This dissertation focuses on how core disciplinary ideas can be reinforced through game-based learning. Review Foster emphasizes that the research suggests that the quality and quantity of games for educational uses should be increased. From my experiences in the classroom, I fully agree with this statement and yearn for more games to enforce things my students learn—especially concepts they struggle with (vocabulary, history, etc.). This study reinforces things I have seen in other studies and in my own classroom—that students can achieve a deeper understanding and more engagement in learning through the use of educational games. Dissertation #3 Transitioning towards the digital native: Examining digital technologies, video games, and learning
  • 3. Salomon, J. (2010). Transitioning towards the digital native: Examining digital technologies, video games, and learning. (Order No. 3407254, Union Institute and University). ProQuest Dissertations and Theses, , 129-n/a. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/305265659?accountid=13965. (305265659) Summary This dissertation explores how certain technologies affect digital natives and understand correlations among video games. Data was collected in a survey distributed to 235 students from Miami-Dade College. There were no significant relationships, but a trend was noticed: technology usage showed a correlation to preference for virtual or hybrid courses. This suggests that digital natives are more inclined to more technology- infused learning as opposed to the traditional lecture-style classroom. In summary, Saloman discusses that there is still a divide between education and technology, but that some educators are trying to lessen this gap through virtual environments, including games. Research shows that games are highly interactive, but did not show a strong correlation between game play and gpa/learning. Review Although the data collected was from 2010, much of it can still apply to educational technology today. In my personal experience, I still feel as though there is a gap between technology and its integration into education. Since this dissertation was written, much more research has been completed about the effects of game-based learning. This study did not delve deeply into how technology, specifically gaming, impacts engagement in learning. It did, however, find no correlation from gaming to achievement. I believe this study, however, should be presented again to a modern-day elementary classroom—focusing on game-based learning instead of just gaming.

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