Practising Arithmetic Using Educational Video Games with an Interpersonal Computer

By Beserra, Vagner; Nussbaum, Miguel et al. | Educational Technology & Society, July 2014 | Go to article overview

Practising Arithmetic Using Educational Video Games with an Interpersonal Computer


Beserra, Vagner, Nussbaum, Miguel, Zeni, Ricardo, Rodriguez, Werner, Wurman, Gabriel, Educational Technology & Society


Introduction

Playing is, above all, a learning experience (Rosas, Nussbaum, Cumsille, Marianov, Correa, Flores et al., 2003). The use of computer games favors the development of complex thinking skills related to problem solving (Shih, Shih, Shih, Su, & Chuang, 2010), strategic planning (McFarlane, Sparrowhawk, & Heald, 2002), and self-regulated learning (Mayo, 2009). Computer games can also support different learning styles (Connolly & Stansfield, 2007), since speed and level of difficulty can be adjusted according to the player (Alcoholado, Nussbaum, Tagle, Gomez, Denardin, Susaeta et al., 2012).

In the past few years, parallel to the development of educational video games, strategies to optimize the use of technological resources have been developed with the goal of facilitating wide-scale adoption of technology in classrooms. In particular, the interpersonal computer stands out because of its low acquisition and maintenance costs (Kaplan, DoLenh, Bachour, Kao, Gault, & Dillenbourg, 2009). With an interpersonal computer, multiple users located in the same space share one output device, like a computer screen, but each user has their own input device that they use to interact simultaneously with the virtual world.

The interpersonal computer is very attractive for schools in developing countries, where computational infrastructure is an entry barrier (Trucano, 2010). Cost is a key element in the widespread adoption of technology in classrooms, which is the main reason why the interpersonal computer is such an attractive proposal: it centralizes resources by minimizing the amount of equipment and technical support required.

The use of multiple inputs has been studied by a number of researchers who have sought to demonstrate its effects on peers working with a single screen (Paek, Agrawala, Basu, Drucker, Kristjansson, Logan et al., 2004). The interpersonal computer bolsters the learning process when teacher and student are in the same physical space, since the technology does not just capture student attention and motivate them, but also significantly mediates the construction of concepts (Smith, Gentry, & Blake, 2012). The results show that children controlling their own input devices in a situation with shared screens are more active and therefore demonstrate less boredom and fewer disruptive attitudes (Infante, Weitz, Reyes, Nussbaum, Gomez, & Radovic, 2010). A fundamental aspect that favors interactivity among the students, and particularly their level of motivation, is the fact that the activity makes each of the students work with their own objects; each student controls their own input device, which forces them to participate and become protagonists of their own learning (Infante, Hidalgo, Nussbaum, Alarcon, & Gottlieb, 2009). When teaching arithmetic, Alcoholado et al. (2012) show that engaging in interactive practice on interpersonal computers facilitates learning more than using the traditional paper and pencil method. This suggests that this technology not only has economic advantages, but is also an effective educational tool.

Consistent with the above, and understanding the potentialities of using video games in the teaching-learning process, our first research question is: Within individual pedagogical activities in which arithmetic is practised using an interpersonal computer, what is the added value of a game in terms of student knowledge gained when compared with the same non-game-based activities and traditional paper-and-pencil activities?

On the other hand, according to Zaharias and Papargyris (2009), culture is a potentially important factor in deciding performance and user satisfaction with video games. Culture is also one of the factors that influence user preferences, according to Ramli, Zin, and Ashaari (2011). How to play and how to solve a video game challenge are activities commonly influenced by a player's background and environment (Fang & Zhao, 2010), which are in turn considered cultural values (Schumann, 2009). …

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