Video Games and Writing Instruction: Focus on Rhetoric and Composition

Video Games and Writing Instruction: Focus on Rhetoric and Composition

Johansen Quijano
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 27
DOI: 10.4018/IJGCMS.2020010101
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This study measures the increase in rhetorical knowledge in two groups of first-year community college students. The control group took the course while following the standard curriculum, while the experimental group replaced a writing-intensive unit on Rogerian rhetoric with a unit on visual and procedural rhetoric where videogames were used as primary texts. The researcher analyzed the data in an attempt to establish the existence, or lack thereof, of possible connections between the use of video game texts in writing instruction and students' acquisition of rhetorical and literary skills.
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In 2003, James Paul Gee presented a theoretical framework as the foundation of much of the future research into games and education. In this framework, he argues that video games can be seen as an ideal model of pedagogical practice. He suggests that the education community can learn about learning and literacy from video games. His book, titled What Video Games Have to Teach Us About Learning and Literacy, presents 36 education principles that are found in video games and that, Gee observes, educators often neglected. This led to a golden age of research into games and education.

With the recent growth in popularity of video games that feature extensive language-based narrative components, education researchers have begun raising the question of whether video games can be used as a tool to teach language skills. Although ESL researchers have been looking into these connections for over a decade, research into the teaching of writing and literature in the context of first- and second-year writing is limited. This is especially true of community college settings, where the research is almost non-existent. With most of the available sources being geared towards teaching at the K-12 level, there is a gap that needs to be addressed.

While it may seem evident that teaching writing for video games - a topic on which there are a number of books and articles - could help students learn writing skills, the more immediate concern for this investigation is not about writing for video games, but about the use of video games as a tool to teach writing (skills and topics) in the context of rhetoric and argument.

This study aims to present data regarding the efficiency of using video games as teaching and learning tools in the instruction of writing, specially writing with a focus on rhetoric and composition in a community college setting.

Statement of Problem

For almost forty years, both scholarly and popular media publications suggest that students lack enthusiasm when taking language arts courses. Whether it's first year composition students finding little importance in writing courses (Williams and Alden 1983), medical students learning communication skills (Sheard and Davies 2002), English as a Foreign Language Students mastering writing skills (Burden 2002, Kyodo 2015), or students in general finding little to no motivation to write (Burning and Horn 2010, Condron 2011), students seem to lack an intrinsic desire to engage with writing in a significant way (Zumbrunn 2017, Kim 2018). This makes it exigent on writing instructors to find ways to engage students and teach them about the importance of writing. In other words, it's up to the instructor to make writing relevant to the student. Using video games as a tool for writing immersion might address these issues.

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