A Framework for Promoting Knowledge Transfer in SNS Game-Based Learning

A Framework for Promoting Knowledge Transfer in SNS Game-Based Learning

Robert Z. Zheng (University of Utah, USA) and Thanh N. Truong (University of Utah, USA)
Copyright: © 2017 |Pages: 26
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-0513-6.ch004
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This chapter focuses on an important issue in SNS game-based learning, that is, learners' knowledge transfer in the ill-structured domain. The chapter offers a discussion of instructional strategies in SNS game-based learning. The discussion presented here was framed around an extensive review of the literature pertinent to the strategies and approaches in serious games. Based on the discussion a framework was proposed for serious game design which revealed the interaction between and interrelationship among the variables in serious game learning. A pilot study was conducted to test the partial components of the framework. The results supported the framework showing students' progression in knowledge transfer in a game-based learning environment. Discussions were made regarding the implications of the framework and its application in k-16 education and professional training.
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Online learning game via Social Networking Sites (SNS) has increasingly been considered a viable platform for supporting learning and scientific inquiry (Conole & Culver, 2010; Shapiro & Ossorio, 2013). Studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of SNS serious games in engaging learners in community-based activities and developing deep level thinking and application (Gadgil, Nokes-Malch, & Chi, 2012; Fraughton, Sansone, Butner, & Zachary, 2011, Squire, Mutlu, Ferris, Shapiro, & Montague, 2012). It is believed that SNS-based game can increase learners’ interest, improve their conceptual understanding and application, and influence their career choice in science (Jorgensen & Grushkin, 2011). While games’ popularity in informal learning situations continues to grow, adoption in the K-12 classrooms remains stagnant. One of the issues in regard to integrating games into classrooms is the prevalent skepticism about “their value, use and appropriateness” (Muehrer, Jenson, Friedberg, 2012, p.783). Frank (2012) points out that the risk associated with the use of games in training and education is that players “game the game,” instead of focusing on their learning goals. Kenny and Gunter (2011) also noted that most games aiming at educational settings failed to incorporate important pedagogic components and that lacking sound instructional design principles found in most games destined for the classroom has resulted in a player/learner base that is engaged and entertained, but does not learn the desired content. Huang, Johnson, and Han (2013) are concerned about lacking the design principles in serious game development. They maintain that failing to consider the design principles as well as cognitive and motivational support in games can result in serious consequences pertaining to learners’ cognitive process and motivation in learning.

Recent efforts have been made to focus on how SNS serious games may promote learners’ knowledge transfer in learning. These efforts include cognitive and motivational support in educational computer games which has been proven to positively affect learning outcomes (Roscoe, Segedy, & Sulcer, 2013; Schrader & Bastiaens, 2012). Specific approaches have been taken to integrate cognitive and motivational elements in SNS games that range from problem-based learning to self-reflection, social networking, and motivation (Barbour & Plough, 2009; Conole & Culver, 2010; Squire, 2008). Despite the efforts to make the SNS game a robust tool for knowledge transfer, much remains unknown in regard to the underlying principles and factors that affect learners’ deep learning and knowledge transfer in serious games (Berthold, Nuckles, & Renkl, 2007; Liu, Toprac & Yuen, 2009). The goals of the current chapter focus on (a) the factors that impact learners’ deep learning and knowledge transfer in serious games; (b) the cognitive and affective structures that support knowledge transfer; (c) the implications of the above structures in teaching and learning. The chapter starts with a review of the existing cognitive and affective approaches in SNS game-based learning, followed by the presentation of an augmented framework that supports knowledge transfer in SNS game-based learning, and ends up with a preliminary study with some promising results in terms of supporting students’ knowledge transfer. Finally, discussions were made regarding the implications of the framework and its application in k-16 education and professional training.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Squire’s Model of Games for Discovery: Squire focuses on multi-generational social network gaming environment in science discovery. Squire explained that the model is to push game-based learning far beyond the traditional notion of students learning traditional content through a game, it is in fact more than just “good games.” The game model is grounded in social network of game players and scientists from different fields with varied interests and abilities. The model is characterized by an integrated gaming platform called “third place”, which cuts across homes, schools and informal learning institutions. By interfacing between schools, homes, and informal institutions, learners’ social lives are transformed through participation.

Problem-Based Learning: Problem-based learning has long been recognized in education as an effective tool to promote learners’ critical, analytical thinking and knowledge transfer. It is a strategy for teaching in which learning activities are developed around a problem. Students are challenged to explore and develop potential solutions or decisions about the problem.

Self-Reflection: Reflection is a human activity in which people recapture their experience, think about it and evaluate it. Self-reflection askes students to reflect upon their own learning, describe how they proceed and use various strategies to map out their growing understanding. It has been found that the self-reflection helps externalize learners’ cognitive processes and engage them in deep thinking.

Social Networking: Social networking refers to using cloud-based social network to facilitate learning. Social networking is a social structure that reflects the interrelationship between individuals, groups, organizations, or even entire societies (e.g., social units). As an important aspect in game-based learning, social networking has been integrated into learning games to maintain personal and social connections with their people in the community.

Constructivist Paradigm in Game Design: The constructivism emphasizes that learning is an active, contextualized process of constructing knowledge rather than acquiring it. Constructivism considers knowledge to be constructed through social negotiation, personal experiences and hypotheses of the environment. That is, learners continuously test these hypotheses through social negotiation and interaction with personal experiences. Constructivism recognizes that each individual brings different personal experience and interpretation to learning. They each signify different processes in knowledge construction. Therefore the individual is not a blank state but brings with him/her past experiences and cultural factors to a situation.

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