On occasion, talking with some colleagues about instructional techniques to interest and motivate students in a college classroom sometimes has resulted in patronizing looks of amusement. Why would we invest that extra preparation time? Instructors believe that using alternate strategies that incorporate forms of instructional technology into their curriculum may involve more effort than it is worth (Iding et al., 2002). As teachers tend to teach according to their own personal learning strategies (Cohen, 2001; Pierson, 2001), habituation may be a factor. This study was designed to find out if using active learning methods in the form of games, which often entail additional planning time, result in greater student engagement and increased learning outcomes in an introductory computer class.
Key Terms in this Chapter
Visual Basic for Applications (VBA): An implementation of Microsoft’s Visual Basic event driven programming language that runs code from within a host application rather than as a standalone application, built into all Microsoft Office applications.
Online Games: Online games refer to games that are played over some form of computer network, most often the Internet. Online games can range from simple text-based games to games incorporating complex graphics and virtual worlds populated by many players simultaneously.
Video Games: A video game is a computer game designed mainly for entertainment purposes. A video game console is the electronic machine designed to play the games and a video display such as a computer monitor or television is the primary feedback device. The main input device is a controller. A controller can be a keyboard, mouse, game pad, joystick, paddle, or any other device designed for gaming that can receive input. Special purpose devices, such as steering wheels for driving games, light guns for shooting games, and drums for musical games may also be used.
Browser Games: Browser games are electronic games that are played online via the Internet. They are distinct from video and computer games in that they do not require any client-side software (i.e. purchased CD or DVDs) to be installed. Browser games rely solely on technologies such as a Web browser and sometimes a common plug-in such as Java or Flash.
Computer Games: A computer game or “PC” game is a form of interactive multimedia used for entertainment played on a personal computer. Computer games are usually distributed via standard storage devices such as CDs and DVDs and are usually read-only. Computer games most often require a license agreement.
Game-based Instruction: One method of instruction under the active learning strategy where students engage in playing games specifically created for the content under study.
Active Learning: An instructional strategy where learners are actively engaged in the learning process.