The serious games research has indicated that learning by playing games may support knowledge construction, engage learners, provide learning methods that correspond better with students’ requirements, as well as enhance classroom dynamics, concentration, and self-esteem. However the recent research has also proposed that learning by creating gamescould even better address the needs of learners than just playing existing games. Learning by creating games appears to be an active learning treatment because it is intended to induce generative processing in learners by challenging them to select and organize information about the subject of the game as they actually define the game rules and construct a new game. Furthermore, game creation has been argued to support 21st century competencies like creative problem solving, collaboration, ICT literacy, systems thinking, and affect positively on engagement in STEM subjects.

We are proud to present our new research project titled as “The learning effectiveness of physically activating multiplayer game environments: Learning by creating games versus learning by playing games”. This Academy of Finland (Future of Learning, Knowledge and Skills TULOS Research Programme) funded four-year project starts from the beginning of the 2014 and ends to the end of the 2017. It is about the effectiveness of games and game creation in the context of learning mathematics.

The acquisition of mathematical skills is crucial for today’s society. For example, Parsons and Bynner (2005) have stated that in individual level, insufficient mathematical competencies may be even more harmful to career prospects than reading or spelling deficiencies. This is to say, that in society level mathematical deficiencies can lead to immense costs. In fact, OECD has argued that improvements in arithmetic skills influence positively on economic growth. Furthermore, the research has shown that early number competence and the extent to which elementary students master fractions are strong predictors of future success in mathematics. Thus, it is important to develop more engaging and effective methods that can be used to improve children’s arithmetical skills as well as to ensure that all children have such basic skills that they are able to learn more advanced mathematics later on. To address this demand, the proposed research will study the effectiveness of mathematical interventions that incorporate embodied interaction, game technologies and learning analytics in pedagogically meaningful ways.

The primary purpose of the research is to study whether pupils learn and understand fractions better when they play author provided multiplayer fraction games (learning by playing games group) or when they are asked to collaboratively create own games about fractions with a visual game-authoring tool (learning by creating games group). From these two approaches both physically sedentary and physically activating game (exergame) implementations are studied. To fully take advantage of possibilities that games can provide for learning we also study ways to automatically evaluate learning behavior and to support learning process in game based learning (learning analytics). Additionally learners’ user experience is studied because it can influence on learning outcomes.

In general, the goal is to obtain new knowledge and understanding about novel game based learning solutions in collaboration with international partners. We continue our previous research collaboration with GALA and MAGICAL project partners and Stanford University. In particular this research focuses on studying the usefulness of learning by making games approach as a possible future learning method that can prepare students for the challenges of 21st century in an engaging way. The proposed research contributes to development of future digital learning solutions and assessment methods emphasizing the meaning of learner generated content, collaborative knowledge construction, creativity, learning analytics, whole body interaction, and sustainability.

If you are interested in to hear some more, please feel free to comment.

Kristian, Pauliina and Arttu

Tampere University of Technology (TUT)

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