This study compared a traditional classroom environment with that of a QA (Multi-user virtual environment) video game designed for education called Quest Atlantis (QA). Measures of learning and engagement were gathered within a 2-week water quality unit, taught in four 6th grade classrooms with the same teacher implementing curricula in 4 intact classes, randomly assigned to either delivery mode through a quasi-experimental design. Although both conditions shared equivalent content, the Traditional condition was text-based, and activities were teacher-led. The QA condition was virtual-based, and placed the teacher in the role of resource, while students uncovered information within the larger structure of QA's virtual world.
Pretests showed no significant differences between instructional conditions. Posttest data indicated that both groups had significant learning gains, though the gain for the QA group was significantly higher than the traditional group. A delayed posttest showed the QA group retained significantly more information from the unit than the traditional instruction group.
Results also indicated the QA group also scored significantly higher in their ratings of engagement in the curricula than the traditional delivery mode. Further evidence of engagement was demonstrated by free choice activities, where approximately 75% of the QA students chose to complete optional activities for no credit, while in the Traditional group only 4% did a similar optional assignment despite the benefit of 'extra credit'. Further analyses of the levels of participation, engagement, and immersion in the two delivery modes are offered through qualitative analyses.
|Subjects||Educational psychology; Cognitive psychology|
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