Computer games use in an educational system

Che Pee, Naim (2011) Computer games use in an educational system. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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Teaching a subject which involves a long process and inter-related problems can sometimes be difficult through conventional classroom activities. This is particularly difficult at the UK Key Stage 3 (13-14 years) where students are only beginning to understand the processes of reason. Often what the teacher would like to encourage is group discussion but for many reasons, young students may be reluctant to put forward ideas in a conventional classroom setting. An area where this becomes less of a problem is once they get involved in playing a game together.

In addition to this certain subjects are difficult to teach because they involve complex interactions that are largely outside the general knowledge of young students. An example of this is the issue of human contributions to climate change. The subject is one of recent heated debate, much of which involves complex arguments on the relationship between the natural contribution to climate variation and those produced by human beings. In the work reported here a computer game has been developed which tries to incorporate the various processes involved in a realistic way. In principle this game can be used individually. However, it also provides the opportunity for generating group discussion and reasoning processes. The game which has been developed uses a non-player character which is controlled by the teacher. The game is played in a networked environment with a number of teams of two players each trying to provide solutions to a complex climate issue. The non player character is able to monitor the performance of the different teams and provide feedback that will be of a more realistic/less predictable nature.

This thesis addresses the design and the implementation of the game as a tool for teaching and learning purposes for learning about the human contribution to climate change. Three experiments have been done using this computer game to investigate the effectiveness of game-based learning towards tackling these issues. The first two studies were carried out in the UK while the third study was carried out in Malaysia to investigate educational cultural background. The initial study involved two groups of Key Stage 3 children in a Geography class. The study was undertaken in the normal teaching sequence. The children were divided into pairs during game-play and each session lasted about one hour. The behaviour of the whole group and individual teams was monitored throughout the game-play. Analysis of this shows that the game not only allowed the students to investigate the science but also to communicate with each other during the process. Overall, it is felt that by introducing an environment with which they were sufficiently familiar (playing a game together) the normal inhibitions to communication were removed. The control based experiment reinforced these findings.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: Blanchfield, P.
Subjects: L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB1024 Teaching
Q Science > QA Mathematics > QA 75 Electronic computers. Computer science
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Science > School of Computer Science
Item ID: 12297
Depositing User: EP, Services
Date Deposited: 07 Mar 2012 09:22
Last Modified: 15 Dec 2017 05:53

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