Connecting dots for digital learning and teaching

Inquiry-Based Learning in a Game-Based Learning Setting

Inquiry-based learning has recently become a focus of attention in education and training environments. A promising platform for promoting inquiry-based learning is digital game environments. Game-based learning environments have been used in a range of domains, including negotiation skills, foreign languages, and policy argumentation. Devising effective methods for guiding inquiry-based learning in game environments requires an understanding of students’ inquiry strategies in digital games. This paper examines students’ inquiry behaviors within a game-based learning environment, as well as inquiry behaviors’ relationships with problem solving and learning.

This is a research program from North Carolina State University, USA. The abstract is quoted here:

Guided inquiry-based learning has been proposed as a promising approach to science education. Students are encouraged to gather information, use this information to iteratively formulate and test hypotheses, draw conclusions, and report their findings. However, students may not automatically follow this prescribed sequence of steps in open-ended learning environments. This paper examines the role of inquiry behaviors in an open-ended, game-based learning environment for middle grade microbiology. Results indicate that students’ quantity of information-gathering behaviors has a greater impact on content learning gains than adherence to a particular sequence of problem-solving steps. We also observe that information gathering prior to hypothesis generation is correlated with improved initial hypotheses and problem-solving efficiency.

It is an excellent reference for facilitating game-based learning in science classes. To read the full report, click on this link: Exploring Inquiry-based Problem-Solving Strategies in Game-based Learning EnvironmentsMore information on the games used can be found in this article in Meridian.(A Middle School Computer Technologies Journal).

game-based learning


River City is an immersive simulation for middle school students. This MUVE (Multiuser Virtual Environment) is an example of an academic enterprise that was created using designed-based research and promotes both complex communication and expert problem-solving. Following the path of River City, with the addition of intelligent tutors, Crystal Island is being developed at North Carolina State University by a team of computer scientists and educational researchers. This NSF-funded project will be an example of an academic innovation that targets science education for eighth grade middle students.

The user plays the role of the daughter (or son) of a scientist attempting to discover the origins of an unidentified illness at a research station. The environment begins by introducing the student to the island and the members of the research team for which her father serves as the lead scientist. As members of the research team start to fall ill, it will be her/his task to discover the cause of the outbreak. She will be free to explore the world to collect physical evidence and interact with other characters. Through the course of her adventure, she must gather enough evidence to correctly choose among candidate diagnoses including botulism, cholera, salmonellosis, and tick paralysis, as well as identify the source of the disease, relying on her knowledge of genetics to solve the mystery.

Games can provide a context for situated learning in which players are immersed in complex problem-solving tasks that require expertise. Many thanks to those research efforts that shed light on how games can benefit education in the 21st century.


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“Tell me and I will forget, show me and I may remember, involve me and I will understand.” -------- Chinese Wisdom "Games are the most elevated form of investigation." -------- Albert Einstein
"I'm calling for investments in educational technology that will help create digital tutors that are as effective as personal tutors, educational software as compelling as the best video game," President Barack Obama said while touring a tech-focused Boston school (year 2011).
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