North Carolina State University (UNITED STATES)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2017 Proceedings
Publication year: 2017
Pages: 7466-7475
ISBN: 978-84-617-8491-2
ISSN: 2340-1079
doi: 10.21125/inted.2017.1731
Conference name: 11th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 6-8 March, 2017
Location: Valencia, Spain
Student engagement and retention is a major challenge in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) introductory large enrollment college classrooms. Incoming students, categorized as millennial or digital learners, often see no appeal to traditional lecture formats or learning materials such as textbooks and are often unmotivated to use these materials when learning or studying. As a result, digital games are increasing in popularity due to their potential to facilitate learning by increasing student motivation and engagement. Research has shown that educational digital games enhance student self-efficacy, motivation, and performance by providing immediate encouragement, praise, and reinforcement to the student. At the same time, well designed digital games work to actively engage students by immersing them in a virtual world, in which they are center stage and their choices have a noticeable impact on the gaming environment. The implementation of gamified learning overlaps well with the blended learning model, which has proved to be an effective method of facilitating the expansion of student-centered approaches in large enrollment courses. In alignment with the current literature on millennial learners, gamification, and the blended learning approach, we designed a digital educational experience based on a board game that was developed in the 1970’s to introduce students to several key ecology and evolution concepts. In this role-playing video game, players take on the characteristics of a species living on the island of “Darwinia”. The goal is to outcompete other species on the island for habitat resources and avoid extinction. The game demonstrates the basic mechanics of population ecology and natural selection in an interactive manner that helps students understand and revisit difficult concepts in ecology and evolution. A series of questions set up as an accompanying class module prompts students to compare their game play to real-life biology mechanisms. The blended approach of video game and in-class activity facilitates students’ extension of content, encouraging students to think critically and link several biological concepts together. The target population is introductory biology students enrolled in two learning formats: traditional lecture and collaborative, student-centered. A Likert-style motivation survey based on the intrinsic motivation inventory will be used to assess student motivation and interest in the game. In addition, an open-ended survey will be given to capture student perceptions of usability and usefulness, as well as their willingness to play the game as a means of learning course material.
Biology, motivation, gamification, digital learning.