Academic journal article Journal of Library Innovation

Get in the Game: Developing an Information Literacy Classroom Game

Academic journal article Journal of Library Innovation

Get in the Game: Developing an Information Literacy Classroom Game

Article excerpt

Abstract

Much current research in the field of games-based learning demonstrates that games can be successfully incorporated into educational contexts to increase student engagement, motivation, and learning. Academic librarians are also using games as an innovative instructional strategy to strengthen students' research skills and their understanding of information literacy concepts. This article discusses the development and implementation of Quality Counts, a classroom information literacy game designed to teach undergraduate students how to evaluate Internet sources. After a brief overview of the game's development and rules, the article describes the process of playing Quality Counts in several classes and presents the results of qualitative assessments of student engagement and self-perception of learning, including data from classroom observations and student surveys. Finally, the article offers suggestions for next steps and future research, both for Quality Counts as well as for academic librarians interested in developing or implementing instructional games.

Digital and non-digital games-once referred to as "the original educational technology" (Crawford, 1984, p. 15)-have much to offer information literacy and library instruction. Growing interest in games-based learning is apparent in all educational arenas, from preschool through graduate study. Increasingly, library educators are turning to games to give students opportunities to practice research skills and establish a strong basis for understanding information literacy concepts. This article discusses the development and implementation of Quality Counts, a classroom game designed to teach undergraduate students how to evaluate Internet sources. A brief review of the literature is followed by an explanation of the game's development and rules. I describe the process of playing Quality Counts in several classes, including measures used to assess the game, and conclude with suggestions for next steps and further research.

Background

Much solid research from the field of games-based learning provides evidence that games can be effectively incorporated into educational contexts (Shaffer, Squire, Halverson, & Gee, 2005). In his seminal book What Video Games Have to Teach Us About Learning and Literacy and other publications, noted games scholar James Paul Gee describes many features of games that enable engagement and learning. These features include an environment that presents problems of increasing complexity, the need to experiment with solutions, and the ability to fail in a low-stakes manner and learn from that failure (Gee, 2005, 2007). When playing games, students "don't memo-rize facts, they mobilize information in order to solve game-related problems" (Squire & Jenkins, 2003, p. 14). Games are by their nature collaborative and give students the opportunity both to learn from and teach each other as they work through the rules and progress through the game (Squire & Jenkins, 2003, p. 29). As Kurt Squire from the University of Wisconsin has noted, "the important question is not can games be used to support learning, but how" (2005, para. 2, emphasis in original).

Using games for instruction is an active learning strategy that encourages student en-gagement, a feature that may be especially important in library and information literacy instruction (Branston, 2006; Doshi, 2006). While in all settings it can be challenging for instructors to maintain student interest, library instruction presents a number of addi-tional barriers. First, the librarian teaching students usually is not the students' course professor and thus does not have a preexisting relationship or rapport with them. Library instructors typically do not assign grades to student work produced in information liter-acy sessions, and students may be much more motivated to complete work that will be evaluated by their professors (Markey et al., 2008, para. 48). …

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