Advancing the Study of Educational Gaming: A New Tool for Researchers

Advancing the Study of Educational Gaming: A New Tool for Researchers

Herbert H. Wideman (York University, Canada), Ronald Owston (York University, Canada) and Christine Brown (Ryerson University, Canada)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61520-731-2.ch013


Most of the published research in educational gaming has had methodological limitations. Process data critical to understanding under what conditions games can promote learning are typically not collected, and unreliable student and teacher self-reports are often the primary data source used when assessing the educational efficacy of many games. To address these and other methodological issues, the authors have developed a research software tool, OpenVULab1, which can record screen activity during game2 play in classroom settings remotely and unobtrusively, together with a synchronized audio track of player discussion. This chapter describes the structure, operation, and affordances of the tool and reports on the results of a field trial designed to evaluate its utility. In this trial, 42 college students were studied using OpenVULab as they played a coursework-related web-based learning game. The chapter concludes with an analysis of the trial outcomes, showing how they concretely demonstrate the methodological advantages that the use of OpenVULab offers researchers.
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Methodological Issues In Gaming Research

Historically, the majority of studies of digital educational gaming have relied on teacher and student self-reports of attitudes and perceptions as their sole or primary source of data. Some have used open-ended surveys or interview schedules to probe perceptions about the game and its efficacy as a learning tool, whereas others have collected more quantitative data using Likert-type rating scales. A few have employed standardized evaluation forms for user assessments (e.g., Becta, 2001). Although data of this type is of value in uncovering certain usability issues and in determining attitudes and perceptions, it cannot provide an adequate measure of learning outcomes or gameplay strategies.

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