The use of digital games as an instructional tool has garnered increasing attention in the education community. Empirical work supported by theory on the learning affordances of digital games allowed the game-based learning community to arrive at the consensus that digital games provide an excellent medium for the acquisition of skills and the exploration of concepts. The field, however, lacks research on how best to teach with games. For example, an unanswered question is whether gameplay should take place before instruction, after instruction, or integrated throughout in order to maximize the effectiveness of the game. To answer this question, a study was conducted with 103 middle school students who either played a digital game designed to teach algebraic concepts before receiving formal instruction, received formal instruction before playing the game, or received formal instruction intermittently during their gameplay session. The results indicate while on average all participants showed improvement in terms of learning, those who played the game before receiving instruction showed significant improvement. These results provide evidence supporting the theory that games are effective when used as an advanced organization tool.
Educational Technology Research and Development – Springer Journals
Published: Aug 15, 2017
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