CAN A FAILED SIMULATION GAME BE USEFUL FOR TEACHING ABOUT REALITY THAT AIMS TO SIMULATE? LEARNING EVOLUTION AND NATURAL SELECTION THROUGH SPORE VIDEO GAME IN A BIOLOGY CLASS

D. Herrero, H. del Castillo

Universidad de Alcalá (SPAIN)
This study aims to address the existing concern that video games and simulations need to be strictly linked with curricular contents to promote learning of educational significance.
Spore video game does not offer an accurate model of contemporary scientific understanding of natural selection processes nor of evolution, even though it was conceived to be a simulation of them.
We examine the role of Spore as a learning tool, which was integrated in a Biology class in a Secondary School as part of the subject to work with contents related to evolution and natural selection.
We worked from an ethnographic perspective with a group of 22 students (aged 15-17) and their teacher. The data analyzed in order to understand the learning processes that took place and the effectiveness of the pedagogical integration of Spore comes from video and audio recordings, field notes and summaries of each session.
Based in our analysis, we show how students developed thinking skills related to the analysis, evaluation and review of the contents of the subject of biology through playing Spore.
Ultimately, the paper considers how different believes and understandings about learning processes and knowledge itself -epistemology- can provide different uses of video games as learning tools inside classrooms.