Improving reading comprehension through prior knowledge acquistion via digital game based learning
Julie Hooker Forbess, The University of Memphis, United States
The University of Memphis . Awarded
As a result of the Tennessee Diploma Project, Tennessee students must meet ACT standards in order to achieve high school graduation. However, the reading level of the ACT is beyond that of many average students enrolled in high school. The reading section of the ACT, in fact, utilizes many excerpts from classic literature. Classic literature is also included on the reading lists of most school systems across Tennessee as well as the entire country. Many students are unable to connect to the characters and contexts of classic literature because they lack the necessary prior knowledge to make this type of literature meaningful. This study was designed to look at whether prior knowledge could be provided through classroom experiences in order to aid in the reading process. Research about the reading process reveals that it is an information processing cycle wherein information about new text is matched to what the learner already knows and then is processed and stored. In fact, readers with poorly organized prior knowledge may make invalid connections between prior knowledge and new material. Therefore, to supply prior knowledge to participants, they played a commercial-off-the-shelf video game to gain familiarity with the genre of detective fiction and more specifically with the characters and typical plots and settings of Victorian era detective stories. Game play was used in conjunction with meta-cognitive activities to promote transfer from playing the game to reading the literary selection. It was theorized that this prior knowledge took the form of temporary models or scaffolds and provided a temporary model of the genre and the literary elements of a particular type of literature. Since the transfer of the prior knowledge was critical, near and far transfer of the information from the video game to the literature was also examined. Although all results were non-significant, questions were raised about instructional strategies that address prior knowledge and transfer.
Forbess, J.H. Improving reading comprehension through prior knowledge acquistion via digital game based learning. Ph.D. thesis, The University of Memphis.
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