Evaluation of the Effectiveness of Game Creation by Youth for Media and Information Literacy

Evaluation of the Effectiveness of Game Creation by Youth for Media and Information Literacy

Conceição Costa (CICANT, Lusófona University, Portugal), Kathleen Tyner (The University of Texas at Austin, USA) and Carla Sousa (CICANT, Lusófona University, Portugal)
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 17
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-2015-4.ch009
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This chapter presents findings of GamiLearning (2015-2018) research project aimed to promote critical and participative dimensions of Media and Information Literacy (MIL) in youth through the creation of digital games. Students aged 9 to 14 years old from Portugal and Austin, Texas, participated in the study that included an intervention at schools, based on a constructivist approach. Fieldwork was conducted in three schools in Portugal and one school in the USA. A MIL questionnaire was designed and administered before and after the project's intervention. Preliminary findings from the four schools indicate statistically significant differences between pre and post questionnaires. The MIL questionnaire was validated for students in the 2nd and 3rd cycles of Basic Education in Portugal. The Exploratory Factorial Analysis indicate three subscales: Media Creation, Interaction, and Information Management. Results from the intervention group in Portugal indicate statistically significant differences in Media Creation and Interaction when compared to the control group.
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Media Literacy and Games as a Reflexive Tool

The way we communicate and make meaning in a mediatized world demands a bundle of literacies, often referred to as media literacy, information literacy, visual literacy, multimodal literacy, computer literacy/ICT literacy, media and information literacy (Drotner & Erstad, 2014; Gutiérrez-Martín & Tyner 2012). Regardless of definitions and approaches, these multiple literacies open critical discussions about the changing relationship of literacy and learning. There is a generalized consensus that “promoting and enhancing media literacy, for child and adult populations, is of growing importance, in the context of digital media convergence and a highly complex media and information ecology” (Livingstone, Bulger, & Zaborowski, 2013).

Frau-Meigs (2014) states that core MIL skills include operational skills (including coding and computing), editorial skills (including multimedia writing-reading-producing and mixing) and organizational skills (including navigating, sorting, filtering, evaluating) are central to media education in a digital age. Beyond its importance for individuals, media literacy opens social and cultural dialogue that emphasizes its plurality. People don’t create meaning individually, but as members of “interpretive communities where literacy practices evolve” (Livingstone, Wijnen, Papaioannou, Costa, & Grandio, 2013).

The developments during the last three decades within the fields of both media and education studies stimulated contentious debates, yet “point toward a common ground of shared interests around people, practices, and processes in using digital media in different contexts and for different purposes” (Drotner & Erstad, 2014). One of the main controversies in media studies and education studies can be found in the discourse about the impact of digital media on audiences and learners as it relates to a dichotomy of risks and affordances. These can be seen in dialogue related to risks and moral panics versus celebratory visions of technology as a catalyst of social change (Drotner & Erstad, 2014). Games, particularly video games, have long been associated with these controversial debates and seem to share a common ground with perspectives for media studies and education studies with a focus on their social uses by users/audiences/learners. As a result, they reinforce the assumption that learning experiences occur in diverse learning environments, whether they are designed as formal, informal, physical, or virtual educational spaces (Drotner & Erstad, 2014).

Video games, particularly multiplayer games, involve collaboration, competition, sharing, searching for information on chat rooms and web sites (Gee, 2008) and these practices enable the development of communities of learning. In addition, research that investigates the cognitive learning potential of game play, game analysis and game design increasingly demonstrate the ways that games can support other literacies (Buckingham & Burn, 2007) and creativity (Caperton & Sullivan, 2009). A growing body of evidence supports the integration of game analysis and production across the curriculum (Freitas & Ott, 2013) and, as a pathway to enhance and support students’ contemporary media literacy skills and knowledge. Games can be integrated in the formal learning environment in several ways, such as using commercial titles, developing games with specific learning goals (serious games) or leading the students to create their own games (Van Eck, 2006). If the latter has traditionally been practiced as a way of teaching programming and problem-solving skills (Van Eck, 2006.). It has also has been used “to teach about games as a cultural medium in their own right, just as we teach about film or television or literature” (Buckingham & Burn, 2007).

In addition to these approaches, game play and creation can be used as a reflexive tool that students can use for establishing and developing their own critical understanding of various media narratives, aesthetics and contexts. First, some have noted that critical media literacy requires the development of reflexive knowledge: a child needs to to research a topic in order to produce a related game. Secondly, in the process of game creation, children engage in collaboration and peer learning, which has been shown to support critical literacy and learning across the curriculum (Salen & Zimmerman, 2004; Torres, 2009).

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