Waves: Scaffolding Self-regulated Learning to Teach Science in a Whole-Body Educational Game

Abstract

This study employed mixed methods to investigate the efficacy of scaffolding self-regulated learning prompts within a whole-body educational game, Waves. This game was designed to teach middle school–aged children basic concepts of waves by moving their bodies to mimic the motions of waves, physically experiencing different velocities and wavelengths. Textual prompts intended to scaffold self-regulated learning behaviors respond to learner actions (or non-actions) within Waves. The adult facilitator reinforced the in-game prompts by speaking them aloud. This study is framed around the research questions: (1) How does a whole-body educational game effectively teach players about STEM concepts? (2) How can self-regulated learning be effectively scaffolded in a whole-body educational game? and (3) Are self-regulated learning scaffolds utilized the same way by all players? A quantitative pre-post assessment of learning and self-regulation skills was further elucidated by a case study analyzing the recorded discourse of two partners while participating in the larger study.

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Acknowledgements

The studies in this article are also described in a published dissertation (Johnson 2015).

The creation of Waves was supported by the National Science Foundation under award DRL-1114621, and much of this study fell under the National Science Foundation sub-award 2014-00987-01.

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Correspondence to Emily Kuzneski Johnson.

Ethics declarations

The study described in this paper followed guidelines for ethical treatment of human subjects and received the full approval of the university’s Institutional Review Board. Written informed consent was received from the participant’s parents or guardians, and verbal assent was received from the participants themselves prior to their participation in the study. Conflict of interest: the creation of Waves was supported by the National Science Foundation under award DRL-1114621, and much of this study fell under the National Science Foundation Subaward 2014-00987-01. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the granting agencies.

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Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the granting agencies.

Appendices

Appendix 1. Condensed quantitative study pretest

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Appendix 2. Condensed quantitative study posttest

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Appendix 3. Case study transcript: level 2 of Waves—table listing each utterance in the case study along with its coding label. Font key: spoken by a player, spoken by the facilitator, written prompt within game: P prompt; TB task bar item (numbered 1–3)

Code Transcript
GS TB1: Stand next to each other. – immediately checked off
GS P: Make the middle wave glow green using DESTRUCTIVE INTERFERENCE
GS TB2: Turn the middle wave green using destructive interference.
FS Destructive…
GS P: Could this level be too difficult for some people?
FS So what do you think that means?
GS TB2: Turn the middle wave green using destructive interference—checked off
GS TB3: Make a small middle wave glow green using large destructive movements.
R-PP I think it means just going crazy
GS P: Is the wave responding to your movements the way it should?
  Haha, leave it to middle school boys to define ‘destructive’…
FS But let us put it in the context of ‘constructive’
R-PP Um, like, not big?
GS P: Could a different motion change the wave pattern?
FS Ok so try that now. Make it not big. It’s not big now, is that working?
R-PM um.. [thinking]
FS What do your directions say?
R-PR [TB3] “Make a small middle wave glow green using large destructive movements.”
R-PR So, opposite.
  Ooh.
  inaudible
GS P: Can your partner do anything different to help get the wave closer to the goal?
PM Crash. Oooh.
FS What are you doing when it’s [the middle wave] green vs. when it’s red?
R-PM um we are making it kind of stay still…
GS P: Is there anything different that could be tried here?
PE Come ON…
FS …But in relationship to each other? What are you doing when it’s green?
  Huh?
  Never mind. Keep going.
GS P: Could a different motion change the wave pattern?
PP it’s like a … OK you go to the left and I’ll go to the right.
PM Ah HAAAAAA….
GS P: Can your partner do anything different to help get the wave closer to the goal?
GS [success stars indicate level is completed]
R-PM Yay!
FS Awesome! Ok so what’s destructive [mean]?
R-PE -standing really still. [may have been referring to the screen where all the waves are currently frozen]
GS P: How does this level work?
FS Ok real quick, how did that level work? What did you have to do?
R-PE We had to do the opposite thing from each other
FS To…?
R-PE To make it win.
  Okay.

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Johnson, E.K. Waves: Scaffolding Self-regulated Learning to Teach Science in a Whole-Body Educational Game. J Sci Educ Technol 28, 133–151 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10956-018-9753-1

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Keywords

  • Self-regulated learning (SRL)
  • Simulation
  • Educational game
  • Scaffolding
  • Science education