Boys are less likely to receive praise and recognition for good schoolwork, to consider school important, and have fewer opportunities to do the things that they do best (Lopez and Calderon in How America’s boys become psychological dropouts. The gallup blog, 2013). Traditional school cultures have come in conflict with the normal and natural ways that boys behave. As a result, boys have had alienating experiences and high levels of disengagement and lowered academic success in school due to rejection of boy culture, which includes aggressive play, competition, and violent fantasy. The purpose of this study was to explore ways in which we can re-engage boys and enhance their learning opportunities in traditional classroom settings. Boys are drawn to video games, which offer a unique environment where they can engage in learning activities. By taking seriously the indigenous knowledge of this portion of boy culture, we may identify ways in which their expertise can become useful towards common learning goals (Carr-Chellman 2007; Carr-Chellman and Savoy 2004). The current analysis represents the first of a multiphase study that uses an interpretive lens within a CHAT framework to identify relevant learning in Commercial of the Shelf (COTS) games. This phenomenological design identifies learning accounts that map to the United States Common Core State Standards. Our findings suggest that engaged learning can occur for these boys as a result of playing games. COTS games engage boys in normal and natural ways, and consequently can be relevant learning tools that educators, researchers and instructional designers might employ toward traditional learning objectives.
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According to the CHAT lens we must consider the object, subject and activity as an integrating unit (Engeström 2000). We argue that video games are embedded within boy culture. While history provides us information into the nature of boys, illuminated by video game play. Motivation speaks to cultural motivations for boys to play aggressively in competition and exhibit autonomy; they seek challenges and exhibit emotional feelings of belonging. As a result of cultural and historical (motivation/interest) accounts of involvement within the system, boys describe products of learning (aligned with CCSS and beyond).
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Research study phase 1
Protocol questions for students
What games do you like to play?
Describe how you feel when you play this game? Why?
Do you think you learn from games? What sorts of things have you learned?
What is the overall goal? What must you do to accomplish these goals in the game? What do you do when you fail or do not succeed?
What particular skills do you need to be successful at this game?
Did you need to learn new vocabulary, if so give an example and explain how that helped you master that stage or complete that stage? Have you used or seen these vocabulary words elsewhere? If so how has this helped you?
Does this game require you to read the information on the screen? Is it crucial to the success of any level to read the prompts on the screen?
When you sit down to play do you develop a game plan, strategize? Give an example?
Do you have share strategies and concepts with friends? What do you guys talk about? Can you give an example?
Can you identify a time where you have used a skill that you’ve learned from a video game in real life? How has it impacted how you view this event?
Open-coding framework through CHAT lensFootnote 1
Provokes Inquiry (MOTIVPI)
Psychosocial Moratorium (MOTIVPM)
Identify Key Ideas/Themes (LEARNID)
Analyze Key Ideas (LEARNAN)
Interpret words, phrases and concepts (LEARNINT)
Integration of Knowledge (LEARNINTG)
Comprehension and Collaboration (LEARNCOM)
Comprehension and Collaboration (LEARNCOLL)
Verbal Presentation of Knowledge (LEARNVERB)
Vocabulary Acquisition and Use (LEARNVOC)
Community Language (LEARNCL)
Hand–Eye Coordination (LEARNHI)
Learn From Failure (LEARNFF)
Goal setting (PROBGS)
Other (INT_________) (Example: INTHIST, INTGEO)
|Assassins creed||Identify Themes, American wars, strong community language, goal setting, critical reading, military tactics, chain of command, strategic thinking, moral decision making, history|
|Baseball||Hand eye coordination, MLB players, league infrastructure, how to play the game of baseball|
|Battlefield||Military tactics, situational awareness, collaboration, communication|
|Borderlands||Law enforcement, money management, information literacy|
|Call of duty||Military tactics, situational awareness, manual dexterity, hand eye coordination, collaboration, following instructions, observatory learning, chain of command, strategic thinking, history, developing learning strategies|
|Diablo||Critical reading, strategic thinking, strong community language|
|Driving games||Vocabulary acquisition, how to operate a variety of cars|
|Halo||Military tactics, strategic thinking, collaboration, telecommunication|
|Little big planet||Hopefulness, grit|
|Madden||Grit, problem solving, extended thinking, collaboration, communication, telecommunication, strong community language, utilizing resource, transfer, manual dexterity, hand eye coordination, information literacy|
|Minecraft||Strategic thinking, strong community language, information systems technology, engineering, collaboration, communication, resource management, information literacy|
|NBA2K||Dribbling, shooting, defensive and offensive plays, utilizing resource management, information literacy|
|NCAA football||Critical reading, transfer, strategic thinking|
|Phineas & Ferb||Critical reading|
|Pokémon||Critical reading, vocabulary acquisition, identify themes/narratives, plots|
|Portal||Strategic planning, innovation/creativity, grit|
|Skate||Strong community language, transfer|
|Skyrim||Strategic thinking, strong community language, information literacy, grit|
|Starcraft||Startegic thinking, strong community language, grit, hierarchy, information literacy|
|UFC||Startegic thinking, transfer, hand–eye–coordination, strong comunity language|
|World of warcraft||Critical reading, identify themes, collection of learned skills, strong community language, resource management, information literacy|
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Cite this article
Engerman, J.A., MacAllan, M. & Carr-Chellman, A.A. Games for boys: a qualitative study of experiences with commercial off the shelf gaming. Education Tech Research Dev 66, 313–339 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11423-017-9548-8
- Boy culture
- COTS gaming
- Common core