Barriers to the Use of Games-Based Learning in Pre-School Settings

Barriers to the Use of Games-Based Learning in Pre-School Settings

Dionysios Manesis (National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Athens, Greece)
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 15
DOI: 10.4018/IJGBL.2020070103


The main aim of this research is to investigate how teachers perceive the barriers that limit the adoption and implementation of games-based learning in early childhood education on Cyprus. Teachers are working in public and private pre-schools. A 19-item questionnaire was administered to 148 early childhood teachers in Cyprus (78 public pre-school teachers and 70 private pre-school teachers). Factor analysis reveals three types of barriers to the use of games-based learning in early childhood classroom: lack of confidence, lack of support, and lack of equipment. The higher the teachers' self-efficacy in using digital games is, the lower the level of teachers' perception regarding the barrier lack of confidence becomes. Teachers with no frequent use of computer and digital games in the classroom perceive lack of confidence as a major barrier. Public pre-schools teachers have significantly more positive attitudes toward the usefulness of GBL than private pre-schools teachers.
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Games-based Learning (GBL) has evolved into an integral part of pedagogical use of information and communication technologies (ICT) in education. Digital games promote learning through multimodality in several different areas, which comes in accordance with the belief that Early Childhood Education (ECE) should be interdisciplinary. In addition, digital games incorporate the element of play which is considered critical for childhood cognitive development. Given the fact that children’s play changes rapidly over time, and digital games influence the way that children play, digital games can be considered as a new didactic tool that might empower learning from a different perspective. Literature on ECE and GBL has emphasized that educational digital games, when designed and utilized in a pedagogically appropriate manner, can assist learning (Edwards, 2013; Hatherly et al., 2010; Lieberman et al., 2009; Zevenbergen and Logan, 2008), creativity (Clements and Samara, 2003; Edwards, 2013; Zevenbergen and Logan, 2008), cognitive development (Clements and Samara, 2003; Divjac and Tomic, 2011; Doliopoulou and Rizou, 2012; Fessakis et al., 2013; Koivisto et al., 2011; Lieberman et al., 2009; Manessis, 2013; Manesis, 2018; Verenikina et al., 2010; Yien et al., 2011), healthy behaviors (Lieberman et al., 2009; Manessis, 2013; Yien et al., 2011), social interactions (Doliopoulou and Rizou, 2012; Lieberman et al., 2009; Manessis, 2013), higher order thinking (Hatherly et al., 2010; Manessis, 2011; Stephen and Plowman, 2014; Yien et al., 2011), critical ability (Allshop et al., 2013; Lonigan et al., 2003; Manessis, 2011; Manessis, 2013; Manesis, 2018), problem solving (Allshop et al., 2013; Fessakis et al., 2013; Manesis, 2018; Yien et al., 2011), memory (Allshop et al., 2013; Divjac and Tomic, 2011; Koivisto et al., 2011; Manessis, 2013; Manesis, 2018; Zevenbergen and Logan, 2008), and eye-hand coordination skills (Clements and Samara, 2003; Clements and Samara, 2003; Hatherly et al., 2010; Manessis, 2013; Manesis, 2018; Zevenbergen and Logan, 2008) in young children. Nowadays, the implementation of GBL into ECE is also an important issue for supporting teachers’ professional development (Altun, 2019). Early childhood teachers can play an important role in the successful integration of GBL in pre-school settings, as well as in supporting preschoolers to develop appropriate skills. ECE teacher is expected to plan and implement a set of GBL activities in his/her teaching methods by himself/herself, because the curriculum for preschool education does not give specific guidelines for instructors concerning GBL. Therefore, teachers’ role is as much important as supportive. Review of the literature states that the adoption and usage of ICT and digital games in teaching and learning is usually affected by teachers’ confidence in integrating GBL in the classroom, teachers’ beliefs and attitudes toward GBL, competency and skills in using technology, and teachers’ perceived inhibitors to the use of GBL in early childhood settings (Blackwell et al., 2013; Hew and Brush, 2007; Ihmeideh, 2009; Nikolopoulou and Gialamas, 2015). Despite the potential benefits of GBL in pre-school education, and although teachers have generally positive views about the usefulness of GBL in early childhood settings (Manessis, 2014), many educators are still feeling constrained to using ICT in their teaching practices (Blackwell et al., 2013; Ihmeideh 2009; Nikolopoulou and Gialamas, 2015). Therefore, it is essential to investigate teachers’ perceived barriers to GBL in pre-school settings, as some barriers may lead in excluding GBL from early childhood education. The main aim of this research is to investigate teachers’ perceptions of barriers to accepting and integrating GBL in Cyprus pre-school settings. In addition, according to the pedagogical institute of Cyprus, very few private pre-schools participated in surveys on computer and/or digital games usage in the classroom. Hence, this study also aims to explore possible differences between the teachers working at public and private pre-schools, concerning the use of digital games. The study of Fuligni et al. (2009), and the study of Kamaruddin et al. (2017), also supports the exploration of educators’ professional development in both public and private pre-schools.

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