Instituto de Educação da Universidade do Minho (PORTUGAL)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2016 Proceedings
Publication year: 2016
Pages: 1706-1716
ISBN: 978-84-608-5617-7
ISSN: 2340-1079
doi: 10.21125/inted.2016.1358
Conference name: 10th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 7-9 March, 2016
Location: Valencia, Spain
In the last decades there has been an increasing focus of attention towards the use of videogames as teaching and learning tools. Taking an overview of the research published so far within this subject, one can identify, as other authors have done (e.g. Kafai 2006, Baytak & Land, 2010), two main distinct lines of investigation, related to two different approaches to the use of videogames on education, both with promising results. The more established line of research tries to uncover the effects that the act of playing a videogame may have on students’ knowledge acquisition and motivation, and it is aligned with an instructivist perspective on the use of games for learning. The second, more recent, line of research focus on understanding the effects that teaching game design to students may have on their knowledge acquisition and motivation, which is aligned with a constructionist perspective. There are still few studies that compare these two educational strategies (Vos et al., 2011, Carolyn Yang & Chang, 2013), with initial results indicating that the constructionist approach (placing students in the role of educational game designers) may have greater benefits than the instructivist one. With our present study, we aim at bringing new data to this discussion.

Our research question is the following: Is there any differences in knowledge acquisition and motivation between students that design educational games and students that play educational games? Our sample is composed of two groups of five elementary students each (two 4th graders and three 3rd graders), considered at-risk students due to their socioeconomic conditions. The content knowledge used is mathematical fractions, with the learning objectives selected from the Portuguese national curriculum goals. The intervention took place in a Centre for Social Intervention Studies that supports children in a social neighbourhood in the Lisbon suburbs, during five weekly sessions of approximately one hour per group. We used Block Studio as a videogame design tool, both to design the games students would play, and as a game authoring tool for the students, due to its simplicity, requiring no writing or programming skills. Both groups were tested for knowledge and motivation on fractions before and after the intervention.

This paper presents the methodology and results of our work comparing the teaching of fractions to elementary students, using two different educational strategies, instructivist versus constructionist, with videogames as teaching tools, in an informal learning environment. Based on our results we then present suggestions for future research.
Educational games, constructionism, instructivism.