Kevin Formsma ACF Abstract FY13

ParabolaX: Learner Engagement with Serious Games

Meaningful Play 2012

Video games continue to be a growing and vibrant industry. With the popularity of mobile devices, casual games such as Angry Birds are reaching out to an ever growing audience. These games have an unprecedented ability to persuade their players to overcome gameplay challenges. Many researchers argue that playing games is inherently a learning experience for the players [1] [2] [3]. Some have claimed that games make their players better people [4]. In the classroom learners are much different today than just 10 years ago. Digital devices ¬ mobile phones, tablets, computers and game consoles  are providing fundamentally different experiences during a childs development than in past generations. As educators struggle to motivate their learners, games provide a great opportunity to enrich the education curriculum. ParabolaX is a Serious Game designed to teach principles of quadratic function concepts to high school mathematics learners [5]. Preliminary results with ParabolaX showed that 95% of learners either agree or strongly agree that the game helped them understand quadratic functions. Learners also found the game to be enjoyable and interesting. Many learners indicated they would be interested in using Serious Games in the class room [5]. However, researchers have criticized that engagement isn't driven by the Serious Game content but rather by the new and unique experience of using a game in the classroom [6] [7]. To address and investigate these concerns three distinct versions of ParabolaX are be developed with growing inclusion of gamification techniques and features. The basic version will feature limited scoring and graphics. The more advanced version will include dynamic feedback and high scoreboards. Student engagement will be measured and compared between these three game versions. Engagement will evaluated using measures recorded in game, such as time spent playing and number of attempts per level, in addition to a self-assessment survey. Hopefully the results of this forthcoming study will help resolve some criticism of the use of games in the classroom. [1] J. P. Gee, "Good Video Games and Good Learning," Phi Kappa Phi Forum, pp. 33-37, Summer 2005. [2] M. Prensky, "Digital Game-Based Learning," ACM Computers in Entertainment, vol. 1, no. 1, 2003. [3] B. Winn, "The Design, Play and Experience Framework," in Handbook of Research on Effective Electronic Gaming in Education, Hershey, PA, IGI Global Publication, 2008. [4] J. D. Sutter, "Games 'tap into the best version of yourself'," CNN, 12 April 2012. [Online]. Available: [Accessed 14 April 2012]. [5] A. Montoya, "Using Handheld Touch Screen Enabled Devices and Persuasive Game Mechanics to Teach Quadratic Functions," Techinical Library, 2011. [6] D. Bavelier, C. S. Green and M. W. Dye, "Children, Wired: For Better and for Worse," Neuron, pp. 692-701, 2010. [7] J. Teixeira and T. P., "Zun - A Math Exergame," in Videojogos 2011, 2011.

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