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Simulated "real" worlds: Actions mediated through computer game play in science education

Nilsson, Elisabet M LU (2010) In Malmö Studies in Educational Sciences 50.
Abstract
Over the last decade, a great variety of visionary ideas and beliefs have been brought forward, regarding the potentials of using computer games as a tool for learning and mediation in educational settings. This thesis aims at contributing to research in this field, by empirically exploring what happens when students play and reflect on their computer game play in science education. Three empirical studies and a research review have been conducted. The first study was part of a design-based research project on mobile learning, and involved 17 students (aged 15−16) playing the mobile educational game Agent O. The two following studies involved 72 students (aged 13−15) playing the COTS game SimCity 4, in connection with the annual Swedish... (More)
Over the last decade, a great variety of visionary ideas and beliefs have been brought forward, regarding the potentials of using computer games as a tool for learning and mediation in educational settings. This thesis aims at contributing to research in this field, by empirically exploring what happens when students play and reflect on their computer game play in science education. Three empirical studies and a research review have been conducted. The first study was part of a design-based research project on mobile learning, and involved 17 students (aged 15−16) playing the mobile educational game Agent O. The two following studies involved 72 students (aged 13−15) playing the COTS game SimCity 4, in connection with the annual Swedish school competition Future City. Research questions aimed at clarifying, in a science learning context, what aspects of scientific practice are: (1) mediated through computer game play; (2) used and referred to by students, when reflecting upon their actions during computer game play. This work is not about science education. Instead, it studies actions mediated by computer games, and possible implications for science education. The focus is on mediated actions that occur during computer game play and their potential relevance to school science learning. Two tendencies are important as a background to the thesis. Firstly, the rapidly increased use of digital media among young people. Secondly, the challenge digital media pose for education, generally, and in this case science education, more particularly. The results suggest a number of ways in which computer game play can play a role in science education. Findings show that computer games may provide platforms for engagement in scientific practice, support authentic experiences, and constructively constrain students’ actions, by confronting them with simulated complexities. Computer game play is an activity of great variation, that can take many directions, and outcomes may therefore correspond to teachers’ expectations in some cases, while leading to quite different outcomes in others. It is noteworthy that during game play the students in these studies were primarily playing a game, not simulating a “real” world situation. They did not relate to occurrences outside the game world, unless they were specifically instructed to do so. Conclusions further indicate that instruction is a crucial factor, to benefit from potentials of computer game play in educational settings. (Less)
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
supervisor
opponent
  • Professor emeritus Lauvås, Per, Høgskolen i Østfold, Norge
organization
publishing date
type
Thesis
publication status
published
subject
keywords
computer game play science education computer games game-based learning, Agent O, empirical studies, SimCity 4, mediated action
in
Malmö Studies in Educational Sciences
volume
50
publisher
Malmö University
defense location
Sal D 131 på Lärarutbildningen i Malmö, Nordenskiöldsgatan 10, Malmö
defense date
2010-05-21 10:15
ISSN
1651-4513
ISBN
978-91-86295-02-8
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
b92cdf10-6ab3-43bc-9151-2882f273c150 (old id 1593234)
alternative location
http://hdl.handle.net/2043/9993
date added to LUP
2010-04-26 16:13:23
date last changed
2018-05-29 11:28:53
@phdthesis{b92cdf10-6ab3-43bc-9151-2882f273c150,
  abstract     = {Over the last decade, a great variety of visionary ideas and beliefs have been brought forward, regarding the potentials of using computer games as a tool for learning and mediation in educational settings. This thesis aims at contributing to research in this field, by empirically exploring what happens when students play and reflect on their computer game play in science education. Three empirical studies and a research review have been conducted. The first study was part of a design-based research project on mobile learning, and involved 17 students (aged 15−16) playing the mobile educational game Agent O. The two following studies involved 72 students (aged 13−15) playing the COTS game SimCity 4, in connection with the annual Swedish school competition Future City. Research questions aimed at clarifying, in a science learning context, what aspects of scientific practice are: (1) mediated through computer game play; (2) used and referred to by students, when reflecting upon their actions during computer game play. This work is not about science education. Instead, it studies actions mediated by computer games, and possible implications for science education. The focus is on mediated actions that occur during computer game play and their potential relevance to school science learning. Two tendencies are important as a background to the thesis. Firstly, the rapidly increased use of digital media among young people. Secondly, the challenge digital media pose for education, generally, and in this case science education, more particularly. The results suggest a number of ways in which computer game play can play a role in science education. Findings show that computer games may provide platforms for engagement in scientific practice, support authentic experiences, and constructively constrain students’ actions, by confronting them with simulated complexities. Computer game play is an activity of great variation, that can take many directions, and outcomes may therefore correspond to teachers’ expectations in some cases, while leading to quite different outcomes in others. It is noteworthy that during game play the students in these studies were primarily playing a game, not simulating a “real” world situation. They did not relate to occurrences outside the game world, unless they were specifically instructed to do so. Conclusions further indicate that instruction is a crucial factor, to benefit from potentials of computer game play in educational settings.},
  author       = {Nilsson, Elisabet M},
  isbn         = {978-91-86295-02-8},
  issn         = {1651-4513},
  keyword      = {computer game play science education computer games game-based learning,Agent O,empirical studies,SimCity 4,mediated action},
  language     = {eng},
  publisher    = {Malmö University},
  school       = {Lund University},
  series       = {Malmö Studies in Educational Sciences},
  title        = {Simulated "real" worlds: Actions mediated through computer game play in science education},
  volume       = {50},
  year         = {2010},
}