Enhancing Student Affect From Multi-Classroom Simulation Games via Teacher Professional Development: Supporting Game Implementation With the ROPD Model

Enhancing Student Affect From Multi-Classroom Simulation Games via Teacher Professional Development: Supporting Game Implementation With the ROPD Model

Jeremy Riel, Kimberly A. Lawless
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-6684-3710-0.ch083
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Educational simulations often require players to maintain a high degree of engagement for play in the simulation to continue. Student motivation and engagement is tied to affective factors, such as interest and self-efficacy. As such, game designs and teachers who implement them should promote student interest and self-efficacy in play. In this study, a responsive online professional development (ROPD) program was provided to teachers as they implemented a multi-classroom socio-scientific simulation game for middle school social studies classrooms called GlobalEd 2. A series of ANOVAs revealed that student affect toward the game and its content, including student interest and self-efficacy, was highest when their teachers likewise had a high degree of participation in the ROPD program. This evidence demonstrates the importance that ongoing implementation supports can have in classroom-based simulations and serious games and the benefits of ROPD in furthering the impact of simulation games.
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Simulations and serious games have been repeatedly demonstrated as useful and highly engaging learning activities when used in a classroom setting (Boyle et al., 2016; Connoly et al., 2012; Young et al., 2012; Vlachopoulos & Makri, 2017). With the advent of ubiquitous digital technologies and communications services, simulation games and other learning environments that are modeled to realistically mirror real-world interactions and complex systems are experiencing a renaissance as a viable student-centered approach to learning (Bednar et al., 1992; Jonassen, 2009; Strobel & van Barneveld, 2009). Because highly interactive simulations and serious games can be increasingly supported with digital technologies to connect players across time and geography, the possibilities of simulations to impact students in an engaging way today is quite promising (Chinn & Malhotra, 2002; Mergendoller et al., 2000; Taber, 2008; Zhonggen, 2019).

However, when implemented in a classroom setting, how teachers implement simulation games can influence the outcomes of the game. Educational simulations are often designed based on theories of learning with which certain outcomes are expected based on how students interact within the activity. As teachers are ultimately the facilitators of simulations with students, it is important from a design standpoint that teachers implement simulations in ways that adhere to the intentions of the designers and align with the underlying learning principles upon which the simulation has been designed. This is not to say that teachers should not flexibly implement or adapt simulations to meet the specific needs of their classrooms. Instead, teachers should be supported in their implementation of simulations with robust professional development programs, in part to understand how and why certain elements were designed in the game, as well as whether the expected outcomes of each activity are implemented to ensure that the simulation provides its intended educational benefits (Fishman et al., 2003; Hochberg & Desimone, 2010; Riel, 2020).

This study investigates student affective outcomes from playing a classroom-based simulation game called GlobalEd 2 in relation to their teacher’s participation in a responsive ongoing professional development program (ROPD) to support their implementation of GlobalEd 2. Teachers participated in the ROPD in real time as they implemented GlobalEd 2, with the ROPD intended to support teachers with any challenges that emerged as students were playing the simulation. The primary benefit of an ROPD program is to maximize the benefit of any kind of curricular intervention by providing regular information, support, and coaching to teachers. As a result, it is expected that teachers would have a higher degree of implementation and engagement with the simulation, which would extend to students.

The study hypothesized that teachers’ higher levels of participation in ROPD to support their implementation of the GlobalEd simulation game would be positively related to higher levels of student affect related to simulation play. By increasing teachers’ engagement with and implementation of the simulation game in their classroom, the authors expected that the regular ROPD participation would subsequently (but indirectly) promote higher levels of interest, self-efficacy, and motivation among students as a result of their teacher’s engagement with the ROPD.

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