1 White Loop Limited (UNITED KINGDOM)
2 Beyond Srl (ITALY)
3 Qui Group (ITALY)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2017 Proceedings
Publication year: 2017
Pages: 4145-4153
ISBN: 978-84-617-8491-2
ISSN: 2340-1079
doi: 10.21125/inted.2017.0997
Conference name: 11th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 6-8 March, 2017
Location: Valencia, Spain
It is recognised that many European countries are currently facing a crisis amongst their younger generations in respect of scientific vocations. The number of students specialising in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) disciplines has been in steady decline in recent years and Europe faces the concrete risk of an acute shortage of suitably qualified scientists, technicians and engineers. There is strong evidence that for many young people their disengagement from STEM subjects starts during secondary education. The drivers of this disengagement are various but research indicates that there are primarily two factors at play: first, there is a commonly held perception that amongst young people that scientific subjects are difficult to learn and master; second, there are misapprehensions regarding the employment pathways available to STEM students with many young people believing that studying these subjects will lead to poorer pay and a less attractive working life.

Evidence suggests that the teaching of STEM subjects requires radical reform. Immersive, experiential learning and the deployment of self-directed learning approaches can be the catalyst for deepening student engagement and improving learning outcomes. However, too much STEM teaching remains teacher-led, didactic and one-dimensional. At best, this makes the learning experience more challenging in relation to student performance; at worst, potential STEM students are put off these subjects for life due to an inability to fully engage in the content of lessons. For those students who do stick with STEM subjects, their ability to develop the skills and competencies they need to operate effectively within highly technical employment environments can be diminished meaning that employers are required to undertake considerable retraining in order to bring graduates up to speed.

These dual problems – of the attractiveness of STEM subjects to learners and the effectiveness of STEM teaching in relation to learning outcomes – require novel solutions. The NEWTON project – funded under the Horizon 2020 programme - is a large scale initiative to develop and integrate innovative technology-enhanced tools for teaching and learning and to create a pan-European learning network platform that supports fast dissemination of learning content to a wide audience in a ubiquitous manner. NEWTON is seeking to deploy a range of novel techniques and methodologies, such as AR/VR, Fab-Lab, Virtual Labs, user profiling, self-directed learning and gamification – that is the use of game mechanics – and game-based learning (the use of so-called ‘serious games’). Within the context of a project of this scale – and one that utilises the many and various elements of a modern learning management system – the authors of this paper have developed a specific model, the Newton Enhanced Gamification Model (N-EGM),which provides a coherent approach to the implementation and use of gamification and game-based learning integrating the concepts of socialization and personalization in an unique solution within a digitally-driven STEM teaching context. This paper presents that model and discusses, in detail, the way in which these elements can integrate effectively with other digital learning tools and technologies as a way of cultivating student motivation, increasing engagement and, ultimately, improving learning outcomes.
Gamification, game-based learning, STEM teaching, pedagogical approaches to learning.