The use of educational role playing games in education
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Example isn't another way to teach, it is the only way to teach. (Albert Einstein) Norwegian students are not performing well academically. Test results over the last few years have been gradually decreasing and show we are below average in practically every subject. There is however one field Norwegian students are the best, informal use of ICT. This includes ICT for games, chat, shopping, Facebook etc. The need for new ways to think is great. The aim of this study was to try out educational role playing as educational tools and look into the following research questions: 1. Is it possible that the use of an educational role playing game can lead to increased extrinsic motivation or intrinsic motivation compared to traditional teaching1 for the performance of the tasks presented? 2. Does an educational role playing game affect the learner’s will and initiative to collaborate compared to traditional teaching? 3. Does the use of an educational role playing game have a stronger effect on a learner’s recall of knowledge taught and its applications in different contexts compared to traditional teaching? 4. Are there any significant differences between solo learners and social learners when using an educational role playing game? To look into these research questions, 3 classes of 9th graders were a part of a quasi experiment. Two classes played an educational role playing game, while one group didn’t. The results are presented in this thesis with comments and analysis based on relevant theory related to games, transfer, contextualization and motivation. The experiment and how it was conducted is also explained in chapter 3. The findings were presented to the teachers involved for confirmation and the results matched explanations given by the teachers. 1 By traditional teaching I mean the classical classroom situation where a teacher lectures and students listen and makes notes. The game they used were the first version of Lærelyst – Veien til motivasjon2. A role playing game where subject matter and tasks related to this is put into a fantasy story. The players have an avatar which face challenges of many kinds and is enhanced based on the effort put in to the schoolwork related to the game. The game is now entering its last stages of development before online release. In order to make it as well as possible it is important to run formative research on it to improve the design of the product one intends to create. This thesis is based on this. Some of the key findings were: Games have a great motivational effect compared to traditional teaching. To play an educational role playing game does increase collaboration. It can seem as using this type of games also increases the attitude towards the subject played. The differences between solo and social learners manifests themselves clearer using a collaborative role playing game. A game in itself gives no real learning effect as long as it has low contextualization. That means that as long as the story has no relation to the subject and tasks presented, learning effect is low. Students using the educational role playing game enjoyed it and wanted to use it more compared to traditional teaching. The study reconfirmed the fact that games are highly motivational. But it was also possible to see better results on recall in the experiment groups, not only right after finishing the experiment, but actually six weeks later. But, in general, one might say that the use of a low contextualized role playing game has not a significant learning effect. The research has been very useful, and has given a valuable contribution to the work on fully contextualized, high fidelity scenarios made for educational role playing games. Later tries with higher contextualization indicates this.