The Role of Gender in Mobile Game-Based Learning

The Role of Gender in Mobile Game-Based Learning

Susan Gwee (Nanyang Technological University, Singapore), Yam San Chee (Nanyang Technological University, Singapore) and Ek Ming Tan (Nanyang Technological University, Singapore)
Copyright: © 2011 |Pages: 19
DOI: 10.4018/jmbl.2011100102
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This paper investigates whether there are gender differences in gameplay time and learning outcomes in a social studies mobile game-based curriculum. Seventeen boys and 24 girls from a ninth-grade class in Singapore used a mobile learning game Statecraft X to enact governorship in the game world. The data suggest that boys spent significantly more time playing Statecraft X than girls. However, there were no significant gender differences in their scores in an essay question assessing their learning about governorship in terms of criteria of relevance of content, perspective, and personal voice. There was also no significant correlation between gameplay time and relevance of content, perspective, and personal voice scores. Thus, higher engagement in gameplay alone does not necessarily lead to higher-order learning outcomes. This paper discusses the factors giving rise to these results.
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Teenagers in the twenty-first century have the opportunity to engage in new digital literacy practices as they can now play digital games on mobile devices such as mobile phones and tablet devices. There are currently 5.3 billion mobile phone subscribers in the world (MobiThinking, 2011). In the United States, 23% of mobile users played games on the mobile phone; in Europe, 25%, and in Japan 16%. To explore the potential of out-of-school meaning-making practices of students, schools are looking into the inclusion of mobile digital games in the curriculum.

However, there are concerns about using digital games in the curriculum, one of which is that gaming is established as a male activity and that males may have an unfair advantage in a game-based curriculum. Thus, the main objective of this paper is to examine whether indeed there is a relationship between mobile gameplay time and learning outcomes in a mobile game-centered social studies curriculum. We hypothesize that with more access to and control over a mobile device compared to traditional male-dominated gaming spaces; girls may play as often as boys and achieve similar learning outcomes.

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