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A. Ramnarine-Rieks

Syracuse University (UNITED STATES)
This case study explores the impact of game design activities in learning environments. There is an increased interest in educating users on information literacy concepts and skills since it is viewed as a critical issue of national and international concern. However, teaching information literacy classes is not without its challenge; particularly keeping students engaged. Games have the potential to enhance motivation because they stimulate curiosity and interest by presenting learning in meaningful contexts, giving learners control. Game design encourages the translation of thinking into specific artifacts. This study explores the effects of the thinking process engender by not just play but also design.

Guiding questions examine the learning and understanding that occurred when game design was used as part of instruction. Specifically the study investigates how student motivation developed over the duration of the course, what game design characteristics students used and how students represented information literacy concepts through the design process.

Learning by game design is viewed through interrelated concepts of theoretical and pedagogical perspectives. From a theoretical perspective, it’s grounded in constructivist theories of knowing. Social constructivist thought encompasses the phenomenon. Within a pedagogical foundation, learning by game design embraces Papert constructionism and Perkins knowledge as design; an application of constructivist learning theory. Social constructivists see motivation as both extrinsic and intrinsic. However, because the learner constructs knowledge actively, learning depends on the learner's internal drive to understand and promote the learning process.

Participants were undergraduates (8) students enrolled in a seven week course modified to include a game design component. They were asked to develop a game around content that was covered in the class. Their game would be used to help the player better locate, evaluate and use information effectively; with the option to create an online or board game. Requirements were - easy to learn and fast to play (not exceed 30 minutes). Learning outcomes and rules had to be stated. Throughout the class students shared their design with the class and acted on the feedback received. Data was collected from pre and posttests, game experience questionnaire, a modified Intrinsic Motivational Inventory (IMI) and student and instructor interviews.

Preliminary findings offer insight into the use of game design in learning scenarios. Games created aim at teaching the player how to cite and reference sources. Means of the intrinsic motivation variables in the post IMI suggested that student motivation in terms of competence, interest and effort was higher, compared to the pre scores. Instrinsic motivation improved as the class progressed. Student were confused game initially, it was difficult to explore ideas in an online class, and they were unable to meet face to face. They felt they could have done a better job and thought that they explored the content in greater depth in order the create the content for the game. A more detailed analysis of the data will be available in the paper.