Carleton University (CANADA)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2019 Proceedings
Publication year: 2019
Pages: 2377-2387
ISBN: 978-84-09-14755-7
ISSN: 2340-1095
doi: 10.21125/iceri.2019.0638
Conference name: 12th annual International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 11-13 November, 2019
Location: Seville, Spain
With the growing number of immigrant and refugees, the economic and social adjustment of newcomers is a major issue for many countries. While there has been significant research on various aspects of this phenomenon, there has not been enough attention to the unique problems faced by newcomer children and their social adjustment. This is particularly problematic as this group is highly sensitive, and the failure in their proper adjustment can cause various further health and social problems, and even criminal issues and radicalization.

Newcomer children face stressful situations when trying to fit into a new culture, among them experiencing difficulties in understanding the right behaviour in the new place of living. While there are traditional methods of education and support which are used to help newcomer children understand their new environment and adjust to it, there is a lack of research on the use of new digital interactive technologies in this regard.

The purpose of this study is to investigate the effectiveness of educational computer games as a tool to help newcomer children adjust socially. We have developed an educational game called “New Beginning” that sought to help newcomer tweens (age 9-12 years) learn more about a few selected behavioural issues. The game includes social behaviour advice with a focus on bullying and how to respond to it. The participating children were assigned randomly to do one of the following activities:
1) playing a computer game that contains behavioural advice about social interaction in the context of a space fantasy story,
2) reading a brochure taken from Canadian school material related to the same topics.

We used a set of 6 behavioural questions as an objective test of knowledge to investigate the effectiveness of the games while Likert Scale questions were used to evaluate the subjective preference of the participants. After analyzing the pre and post questionnaires for both digital game group and brochure group, the data shows that the children’s knowledge of social adjustment in both groups have improved with a significant increase in the numbers of correct answers, with the game group showing even stronger results. While the brochure found to be easy to read, children found the digital game more useful and enjoyable in comparison to the brochure. As such, the study confirmed that educational games could be more effective and preferable in enhancing newcomer children's understanding of social interaction and behaviour in situations of conflict, compared to other conventional mediums such as educational leaflets. Even though children were the primary target group of this study, the participants’ parents were also given the opportunity to express their opinions. They were positive towards using the digital game in the context of our study because of its ability to keep children engaged, connected and it’s a safe place to simulate behaviours and adapt to the given situation which may not be available otherwise.

Our study is only an initial step towards using digital games in this context, and in future work, we seek to integrate the collected feedback of this study to improve the game design in the context of newcomer children social adjustment. Also, we are working on developing a specific game guideline that takes into considerations various social and cultural perspectives.
Computer game, Digital technology, Game-based learning, Newcomer children, Social Adjustment.