Transitions in Student Motivation During a MUVE-Based Ecosystem Science Curriculum: An Evaluation of the Novelty Effect

Transitions in Student Motivation During a MUVE-Based Ecosystem Science Curriculum: An Evaluation of the Novelty Effect

Shari J. Metcalf (Harvard University, USA), Jason A. Chen (The College of William and Mary, USA), Amy M. Kamarainen (Harvard University, USA), Kim M. Frumin (Harvard University, USA), Trisha L. Vickrey (University of Nebraska – Lincoln, USA), Tina A. Grotzer (Harvard University, USA) and Christopher J. Dede (Harvard University, USA)
Copyright: © 2019 |Pages: 20
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-7987-8.ch005

Abstract

One issue involved in incorporating any new technology in science education is the concern that the value added is primarily due to the novelty effect. The authors address this concern by evaluating student motivation during a two-week, multi-user virtual environment (MUVE)-based curriculum for middle school ecosystems science. Analysis of multiple surveys at the beginning, middle, and end of the curriculum revealed that students continued to find the activity engaging from beginning to end, but differed in what specifically engaged them. Further, students' beliefs about EcoMUVE's utility in helping them learn science increased significantly. This transition is attributable to the curriculum's design, which supports internally controlled motivators: autonomy (choice), competence, and connectedness. Specifically, over time EcoMUVE provides opportunities for sustained, meaningful engagement, through self-directed learning, inquiry-based activities, and collaboration with a team.
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Introduction And Theoretical Framework

Multi-User Virtual Environments in Education

Multi-user virtual environments (MUVEs) are 3-D graphical worlds used to create a simulated immersive experience. The user is represented by a virtual avatar, and interacts with the environment by controlling the moves and actions of this avatar through the 3-D environment. Participants in a MUVE may have a variety of tools with which to interact with virtual objects, and also opportunities to communicate and interact with other users and with computer-based agents in simulated environments.

MUVE’s have become recognized as a powerful and effective educational platform (Fishman, Dede, & Means, 2015). MUVEs can simulate environments otherwise impossible in school settings, providing opportunities for classroom students to explore simulated worlds, travel in space and time, and explore events at different scales (e.g., Barab, Thomas, Dodge, Carteaux, & Tuzun, 2005; Kafai, 2010; Omale, Hung, Luetkehans, & Cooke‐Plagwitz, 2009). In particular, there has been significant recent work on the use of MUVEs in science education, and MUVEs have been found to be effective in engaging middle and high school students in learning science, through shared participation in rich immersive experiences (Clarke, Dede, Ketelhut, & Nelson, 2006; Lim, Nonis, & Hedberg, 2006; Nelson & Ketelhut, 2007).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Utility: A perception of how a task relates to future goals, rewards, or outcomes.

Gamification: A design approach in which game elements are implemented in learning environments.

Ecosystem: A community that includes all the living and nonliving things found in a certain area.

Intrinsic Motivation: Choosing to do an activity because of internal factors such as personal satisfaction or accomplishment.

Cost Value: A perception of how the time and effort required for a task relates to its utility.

Immersive: Feeling as if one is really taking part in the experience; feeling as if one is really in a virtual environment.

Autonomy: A situation in which the learner is able to make his/her own choices within a learning activity.

Inquiry-Based Learning: Active learning that is based on posing questions, problems or scenarios to investigate.

Novelty Effect: An improvement in learning when a new technology is introduced, attributable to increased interest in the new technology, that tends to diminish as students become more familiar with it.

Extrinsic Motivation: Choosing to do an activity for external rewards or to avoid negative consequences.

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