In Digital Literacies: Video games and digital literacies, Steinkuelher (2010) defines a problem around parent and teacher perceptions of video games. The author explains that despite the less than savory perceptions teachers and parents hold about video games, there is a growing body of research in literacy studies investigating their merits (Gee, 2007). Contributing to the unsavory perception of video games is The Reading at Risk report (Bradshaw & Nichols, 2004) that situate games in direct opposition of reading. Steinkuelher claims that such reports ignore evidence that contradicts or "problematizes such claims" (p. 61). Taking an information ecology perspective, Steinkuelher seeks to explore through her paper what the relationship between video games and literacy, print or otherwise is.
She writes that there are two perspective on games and literacy. The first asserts that video game play is a form of digital literacy. The second perspective can be observed when "we widen our focus" (p. 61). Steinkuelher writes that "If we widen our focus from the 'individual player + technology' to the online community that emerges around any successful game title, we find that video games lie at the nexus of a complex constellation of literacy practice" (Steinkuehler, 2007, p. 61). Working from this perspective, the author concludes that video games and literacy have a strong mutual relationship. Working from this assumption, the author questions why there is such a disconnect between games and classrooms.
To illustrate how for some boys gaming works against them at school, Steinkuelher shares a story about a student named Julio. Through this story, she connects the dots. Julio identifies as a gamer. His brother is into games and his mother is described as ambivalent towards them. Julio is also failing English language arts and described as "entirely disengaged" (p. 62). Despite Julio's failing English language arts grade, outside of school he's an avid reader of video game narratives and the author of three books of his own. Julio is an avid reader and writer of fan fiction. This gives him "authority and social capital" amongst a group of his peers. Julio checks facts for his books using online texts, he expands his knowledge by choosing television shows that that support his interests, he plays games from various time periods and narratives that he's interested in, and shares his knowledge with his peers. Despite Julio's obvious digital literacy outside of school, he refuses to engage in assigned readings in class.
Steinkuelher explains that when Julio reached the eighth grade, she measured his reading level and found that he was reading three grade levels behind. When asked to read from a social studies text the results were the same. However, when Julio was given permission to choose the topic he would read about, he read independently at a twelfth grade level. Steinkuelher concludes that story shows that "Video games are a legitimate medium of expression" (p. 63).
One critique of this article is the blanket statements the author makes about parent and teacher perceptions around video games. Steinkuelher asks "Why, then, is there such immense disconnect between games and classrooms? Parents and teachers typically loathe video gaming and go to great lengths trying to curb it rather than cultivate it" (p. 62). As a teacher I have never loathed video games nor have I found that my colleagues typically loathe them either. I also think the emergence of eSports has started to shift lingering unsavory perceptions that the author discussed in the introduction. I won't say that all parents and teachers embrace gaming, but I certainly wouldn't claim that the immense disconnect that may have existed when this article was published remains immense today.
Steinkuelher, C. (2010). Digital literacies: Video games and critical literacies. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 54(1), 61-63.
In Enhancing 5th graders' science content knowledge and self-efficacy through game-based learning, Meluso et al. (2012) explains that "there is a growing interest among researchers in the transformative potential of game-based learning technologies, especially in STEM education (Prensky, 2001; Spires, 2008; Whitton, 2007). Well-designed educational games can have a transformative impact on STEM teaching for several reasons:
For this reason, the purpose of this study was to examine the effectiveness of a game-based learning environment (i.e., Crystal Island) in fostering students’ science content learning gains. A secondary goal of this study was to contribute to a larger understanding of the affordances of game-based learning environments when students play them collaboratively along with classroom curricula.
In addition to the growing interest around the transformative potential of game-based learning technologies, another "fruitful area" for game-based learning research is centered around science self-efficacy. Meluso et al. (2012) assert that this area of research is significant for the following reasons:
The researchers of this study are working from the belief that improving young students' science self-efficacy may increase overall interest in science education and in turn heighten interest in careers in the field of science. For this reason, the literature review focuses on developing relationships between three big ideas--game-based learning, self-efficacy and learning, and collaboration and game-based learning.
In the materials and methods section the researchers explain that the study took place at a public magnet school. The school served grades K-5 in a large district in the south-eastern part of the United States. Thirty-five percent of the students that attend the magnet school receive free or reduced lunches. The sample consisted of 100 fifth graders (45 boys and 55 girls). Students were randomly assigned to either a single-player or collaborative gameplay condition across the classes.
Students played the game-based learning technology Crystal Island after they were exposed to state curriculum for North Carolina for fifth grade science focused on landforms. Meluso et al. (2012) describe Crystal Island as "an online computer game consisting of an immersive, 3-dimensional intelligent learning environment with a cast of characters situated on an island within a story world" (p. 499).
Pre- and Post-test assessments
With the focus on gains in students' science self-efficacy science and content knowledge, questions were designed to require students to indicate to what extent they found each item to be "like" them. Fourteen multiple-choice questions were also used to measure STEM content knowledge about content covered in the game.
Items were adapted from the Sources of Science Self-Efficacy scale (SSSE) (Britner & Pajares, 2006) and from the Self-Efficacy for Self-Regulated Learning Scale (Bandura, 2001).
Science content knowledge
Measured through identical pre- and post-test assessments that aligned with the North Carolina Standard Course of Study. FOSS (Full Option Science System) was used to construct assessments for content knowledge items and the fifth grade end of grade questions.
Data collection took place in sessions that occurred once a day over the course of four days. The following occurred on each day of the study:
Results indicated that there were no differences between the two playing conditions. However, the researchers assert that when conditions were collapsed, science content learning and self-efficacy significantly increased. The authors also connected their findings back to the studies theoretical base when they make connections to Howard et al. (2006). They use this connection to support their findings that as expected "students valued the usefulness of discussion with their peers while playing games, indicating that it is important to continue investigations that center around understanding the effects of collaborative gameplay" (p. 502).
Meluso, A., Zheng, M., Spires, H., & Lester, J. (2012). Enhancing 5th graders’ science content knowledge and self-efficacy through game-based learning. Computers and Education, 59(2),497-504.