Scholarly Critique 3
Kurt Squire’s article, “Changing the Game: What Happens when Video Games Enter the Classroom?” immediately caught my attention as it was the concrete application that I had been yearning for. Much of the reading thus far in INTE5320 has dwelled within the hypothetical and theoretical. I sought a publication that applied these theories to a brick and mortar classroom and examined the effects: Squire’s article provided this tangible examination of game implementation with secondary students. Civilization III was introduced to two classes with a varied composition in the hopes of providing lessons associated with world history. The effects were varied, but did contain tendencies that shed an interesting light on the positives and limitations of games in the classroom.
The purpose of the study was to identify teaching strategies that generate motivation in students. Researchers found that the student’s past aptitude and success in traditional classrooms directly impacted the efficacy of motivating factors in Civilization III. Traditionally successful students found the game to be far more tedious and ineffective, bordering on frustrating, than students with a more checkered educational background. Societal concerns revolving around real world application and acceptance into colleges based off nontraditional means plagued the skeptical students, while the counter group shared little concern about the far reaching impact of this type of education.
Through the premise of the game, students were tasked with growing their society. In order to successfully accomplish this task, students needed to gain a far reaching understanding of not only their society, but other societies of the time as well as geographical constraints and government structures. With the breadth of information students needed to absorb during play, it was difficult for them to retain much in the way of details. What was gleamed were far reaching lessons that were applicable to the way the world functioned and functions: a much more applicable knowledge base than dates and facts.
Constraints in the game, which manifested in the form of failure of a player’s society, served, in fact, as the learning mechanism. As examined in the article, failure in typical classrooms is seen as a negative whereas failure is essential in a game-based learning environment and provides the jumping off point for true learning to occur (Squire 2005). This instrumental role of failure caused disillusion in many, but also inspired a comparable number of participants. When a student’s society failed, it was back to the drawing board to learn the root cause of failure and strategies to avoid the same mistake in the next go-around. Too often in traditional schools, failure is met with a letter grade and ushering students onto the next task or unit without revisiting the root of the problem.
Following the conclusion of the article, I am incredibly interested in what other games have been used on a wide scale within a classroom setting, specifically in the English arena. Civilization and Rise of Nations is commonly cited, but I am curious what other games are being introduced into traditional classrooms and what successes and difficulties they are encountering.