Cultural Studies of Science Education

, Volume 7, Issue 4, pp 783–805

Challenges and opportunities: using a science-based video game in secondary school settings

  • Rachel Muehrer
  • Jennifer Jenson
  • Jeremy Friedberg
  • Nicole Husain
Article

Abstract

Simulations and games are not new artifacts to the study of science in secondary school settings (Hug, Kriajcik and Marx 2005), however teachers remain skeptical as to their value, use and appropriateness (Rice 2006). The difficulty is not only the design and development of effective play environments that produce measurable changes in knowledge and/or understanding, but also in their on-the-ground use (Jaipal and Figg 2010). This paper reports on the use of a science-focused video game in five very different secondary school settings in Ontario, Canada. A mixed-methods approach was used in the study, and included data gathered on general gameplay habits and technology use, as well as informal interviews with teachers and students who played the game. In total, 161 participants played a series of games focused on the “life of a plant”, and were given both a pre and post quiz to determine if the game helped them retain and/or change what they knew about scientific processes like plant cell anatomy and photosynthesis. Participants showed statistically significant improvement on quizzes that were taken after playing the game for approximately one-hour sessions, despite difficulties in some cases both accessing and playing the game for the full hour. Our findings also reveal the ongoing challenges in making use of technology in a variety of school sessions, even when using a browser-based game, that demanded very little other than a reliable internet connection.

Keywords

Digital gaming Education Science learning 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rachel Muehrer
    • 1
  • Jennifer Jenson
    • 1
  • Jeremy Friedberg
    • 2
  • Nicole Husain
    • 3
  1. 1.Faculty of EducationYork UniversityTorontoCanada
  2. 2.Faculty of Education, Spongelabs InteractiveYork UniversityTorontoCanada
  3. 3.Department of Cell and Molecular Biology, Spongelabs InteractiveUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada

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