Motivating the Demotivated Classroom: Gaming as a Motivational Medium for Students with Intellectual Disability and their Educators

Motivating the Demotivated Classroom: Gaming as a Motivational Medium for Students with Intellectual Disability and their Educators

Maria Saridaki (National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Greece) and Constantinos Mourlas (National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Greece)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60960-495-0.ch034
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Findings from the educational literature and experimental observations, as well as case studies from field studies will be presented and discussed, in order to demonstrate how games are able to constitute a powerful educational and motivational medium in a SEN classroom.
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Intellectual Disability And Special Education

Intellectual Disability

Intellectual Disability (ID) is a term employed for children and adults with certain limitations in mental development, communicative and social skills. These limitations will cause a child to learn and develop slower than typical, while children with intellectual disability may take longer to learn to speak, walk and take care of their personal needs. Students with intellectual disability are often described as “slow learners” and cannot easily integrate in the normal curriculum.

Most students with ID present limited intrinsic motivation and seem dependent on external amplifiers, while overall lack of motivation and low self esteem can cause these students to resist efforts to stimulate their interest in the learning experience. Many have additional impairments in the form of difficulties in mobility or fine motor control and additional sensory impairments. For the majority of these students, help will always be needed with almost every aspect of their daily lives, yet even those who are more able will still need a degree of support to take part in activities that the rest of society takes for granted.

The aim of special education is to design and implement an alternative learning framework, in order to overcome students' learning difficulties and master two important aspects of self-regulation-the capacity to delay gratification and mastery motivation (Cuskelly et al, 1998). However the educators seem reluctant to use the games in the classroom due to lack of ICT knowledge, technophobia, biased opinion against serious gaming, and strict usage of a behaviorist model of education (Switzky, 1995; Pepi & Alesi, 2002).

Another typical goal of special education is the social integration of the student, in order to achieve the highest possible level of autonomy and self determination. In order to achieve an efficient instructive process, the maintenance of rules and principles is essential. Some of those principles have common applications regardless of special educative needs, whilst others specialize in students and users with mild or severe difficulties, such as children and young people with Intellectual Difficulties. Sometimes those principles contradict important educational principles outside of the SEN grid. For example, instructional principles that are based on terms such as “self-action” and “discovery”, are not recommended within the SEN framework (Christakis, 2002).

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