Serious Educational Games (SEGs) and Student Learning and Engagement with Scientific Concepts

Serious Educational Games (SEGs) and Student Learning and Engagement with Scientific Concepts

Shawn Holmes (North Carolina State University, USA), Brandi Thurmond (North Carolina State University, USA), Leonard A. Annetta (George Mason University, USA) and Matthew Sears (North Carolina New Schools Project, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-0068-3.ch017
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Situated in the video game design literature to foster problem-based learning, this chapter illustrates the application of educational theories to create Serious Educational Games (SEGs). SEGs present a learning condition where students can be engaged in standard-based STEM concepts and incorporate these concepts into a fun, interactive challenge where the goal is to solve a problem. This chapter explores a theoretical research investigation of such a learning environment. Students researched standard-based STEM concepts then used design techniques (i.e., story creation, flow chart, decision trees, and storyboarding techniques) and proprietary software to develop their own SEGs. This work sheds light on the process and encourages others to partake in creating similar learning environments, while providing insight into how to design for sustainability.
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Serious Educational Games

According to Shaffer (2006), games provide a more authentic context for student inquiries. This supports the National Science Education Standards position that “inquiry into authentic questions generated from student experiences is the central strategy for teaching science” (NSES, 1996).

Annetta, Cook, and Schultz (2007) explored how video game design could foster problem-based learning that was congruent with inquiry-based instruction. In the article, they discuss a game that was created by a high school science teacher based on science competency goals that allowed for students to engage in an interactive environment while learning the science content. According to the researchers, “one way to harness the power of video games for science instruction is to design games as problem based learning scenarios” (Annetta, Cook, & Schultz, 2007). As students played the game, their prior knowledge of the science content the teacher had taught was connected to real-life experiences that students could experience through the virtual world as they engaged in solving a problem within the gaming environment.

According to Dickey (2007), educational game design is based on constructivist teaching models. As students play the game, they are able to explore and construct knowledge. Challenges embedded for players throughout the game allow students to use their critical thinking skills to solve problems. In this way, educational games become more than just a way to entertain students and captivate students’ attention within the classroom. Educational games become a purposeful educational tool or instructional method to promote student learning.

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