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Game Based Learning in Secondary Education:

Geographical Knowledge of Austria


1 1,2
Martin Boeckle , Martin Ebner
1
Institute for Information Systems and Computer Media, Graz University of Technology, Graz, Austria
2
Faculty mentor

Abstract Experimental Design - Setting

The Game was tested at the secondary school Kirchengasse Graz, in a fourth class of lower grade from the 10th of May
At Graz University of Technology an educational flash game has been developed. The game, until the 2nd of June 2010. Parallel to the game class the control group got traditional lectures by the Geography
called iGeo, aims to assist students in secondary school in the subject of Geography. The teacher. Professor Pacher taught this class about the content of iGeo, during the other students were
application helps to improve the learning process. Objective: Our main research question was playing the game. As methods, we used the pretest/posttest experimental control group design with questionnaires
to figure out and gain insight, whether challenging online games have the ability to motivate for the students. There were seventeen students (n=17) in the gaming class and twenty six (n=26) in
students to learn and reaching better results as a non assisted group. Experimental Setting: The class B.
application was tested for the first time in a class with seventeen students at lower secondary
school level. Methods: Pretest/posttest experimental control group design with questionnaires.
Results: The group with iGeo reached a significant better result as the control group in the final
examination. Additionally it can be mentioned that playing a game leads to more “fun” for
participants. Conclusion: According to the results and the general impression of the students,
Game Based Learning (GBL) has definitely a positive impact in the field of secondary education,
in this case in Geography. Figure one represents the game design of the application.

Technical Implementation Results

The application was programmed and designed in Flash CS4, the development environment. For programming the
game we used Action Script 3 which is a powerful, object-oriented programming language and is ideally suited to
build rapidly rich internet applications. Especially for interactive online games, Action Script offers a wide range of tools
to have access and listen on user events. The game consists of a highscore, where the students are listed with names
and score they reached. For this option the game interacts with a SQL database using PHP. To interpret the results of
the students, we saved all the clicks in the database.

Murau - Progress
620

600

580
Points

560

540
Game Class Traditional Class
Artithmetic Mean XM: 2,65 Artithmetic Mean XM: 1,76
Standard Deviation: 2,06 Standard Deviation: 2,84
520
(n = 17) (n = 26)
T-Distribution / Increase: 7,8%
500
T-Distribution /Posttest: 3,3%
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23
T-Distribution /Pretest: 40,4%
Number of Games

Research Conclusion

Question and Hypotheses: Playing with the tool shows that the gaming class increased their output compared to the control group. In addition,
the tests prove that the kids were learning the federal states of the places implicitly. This means, the game had an additi-
Q1: Does this game lead to similar/equal learning results as the traditional methods? Are there any onal benefit for the kids. The difference between the gamers and the control group is not significantly large due to the
small numbers of questions asked. It can be said that the game has an positive impact on the learning results of the kids.
disadvantages for the learners who used this game? In another attempt, we should clarify if this impact is significantly different than the one from the control group.

Q2: Does the student learn the correct federal states implicit ? Discussion

On the basis of our questions we formed hypotheses, which we carefully proved by using the iGeo Application: Results:
In H1 it has been shown that playing the game leads at least to an equal learning result as with the traditional method
H1: Playing this game leads to at least equivalent learning results as the traditional method – there is no without any disadvantages for the learners. Our tests prove that students learning places implicitly. (H2)
disadvantage for the learners who used this game.
Motivation:
H2: The feedback in the info box gives the student a “WRONG” message which leads to an implicit learning effect of The motivation was brilliant, but a tiny group of students didn’t show any interest. A short view in the database tells us,
the federal states of Austria. that a small group was challenging really hard, was playing with the same nickname from other places, this means
during the break at other computers or from the home computer. The other quarter was in the middle section, had an
average number of games and the last quarter was at the end. It also shows the importance of students motivating
other students through verbal communication (classroom) during the game process and the general
importance of motivation. There is a high probability that learning will not be successful if there is a lack of motivation.

Usability:
The design/environment of the game must be appropriate to the age of the kids as well the challenging character. If
they don‘t feel comfortable with the game, they will never use it again. The game shouldn’t be designed too complica-
ted. Ease of use is an important factor in this case. (simplicity, clarity) We needed some ideas to motivate the
students playing the game repeatedly.

Settings:
We must point out that all of these experiments took place within a real-life setting, including all its disadvantages. Sub-
sequently we were not able to gather data similar to a laboratory setting. The voluntary aspect of these experiments
was one of its strengths. If the students would have been forced to take part, the results would probably have
been less successful.