An investigation of the artifacts, outcomes, and processes of constructing computer games about environmental science in a fifth grade science classroom
Ahmet Baytak, The Pennsylvania State University, United States
The Pennsylvania State University . Awarded
Among educational researchers and practitioners, there is a growing interest in employing computer games for pedagogical purposes. The present research integrated a technology education class and a science class where 5 th graders learned about environmental issues by designing games that involved environmental concepts. The purposes of this study were to investigate how designing computer games affected the development of students’ environmental knowledge, programming knowledge, environmental awareness and interest in computers. It also explored the nature of the artifacts developed and the types of knowledge represented therein.
A case study (Yin, 2003) was employed within the context of a 5 th grade elementary science classroom. Fifth graders designed computer games about environmental issues to present to 2nd graders by using Scratch software. The analysis of this study was based on multiple data sources: students’ pre- and post-test scores on environmental awareness, their environmental knowledge, their interest in computer science, and their game design. Included in the analyses were also data from students’ computer games, participant observations, and structured interviews.
The results of the study showed that students were able to successfully design functional games that represented their understanding of environment, even though the gain between pre- and post-environmental knowledge test and environmental awareness survey were minimal. The findings indicate that all students were able to use various game characteristics and programming concepts, but their prior experience with the design software affected their representations. The analyses of the interview transcriptions and games show that students improved their programming skills and that they wanted to do similar projects for other subject areas in the future. Observations showed that game design appeared to lead to knowledge-building, interaction and collaboration among students. This, in turn, encouraged students to test and improve their designs. Sharing the games, it was found, has both positive and negative effects on the students’ game design process and the representation of students’ understandings of the domain subject.
Baytak, A. An investigation of the artifacts, outcomes, and processes of constructing computer games about environmental science in a fifth grade science classroom. Ph.D. thesis, The Pennsylvania State University.
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