Reposted from my blog at http://bit.ly/3PYRfq
Update: Here is the link to ASHE and its conference http://www.ashe.ws/?page=106. I'm happy to represent HASTAC there!
I will be in beautiful Vancouver Canada next week, presenting at a conference for the Association for the Study of Higher Education (ASHE). One of my professors and mentors has asked me to present in a symposium that examines the design and use of a video game aimed at improving the college knowledge of under-represented high school students. The game is currently being built at the USC Center for Higher Education Policy Analysis in association with various game labs in the university. My presentation is a broad overview for scholars interested in evaluating the learning effects of educational video games. Here are some general principles that I will talk about next week:
It is not meaningful to think that video games (in an of themselves) affect learning. For example, a Nintendo Wii may or may not improve math learning. It all depends on who is playing the Wii and what kinds of games that person decides to play on the gaming platform. Playing Punchout will likely not improve ones math reasoning skills
Evaluators and designers need to pay particular attention to three features when examining video games:
What is to be learned? Learning facts is different than learning how to do things (procedures). A game designed for one kind of knowledge likely wont produce effects on other kinds of knowledge.
Who is doing the learning? The individual playing the game has a large effect on what is learned. Games dont have a uniform effect on all people, we all bring different experiences and prior knowledge to the game. Researchers should expect differential outcomes with different user populations.
What behaviors do you expect in the game? Video games, as a general concept dont affect learning. What happens within the game is what affects learning. So be clear about what behaviors you (the researcher) are examining within a given game. Be specific.