Winners and Learners: Classroom Discourse Surrounding Educational Game Play

Author: ORCID icon
Whitlock, Kristen, Curry School of Education, University of Virginia
Hoffman, Diane, Curry School of Education, University of Virginia
Brighton, Catherine, Curry School of Education, University of Virginia
Garofalo, Joe, Curry School of Education, University of Virginia
Moon, Tonya, Curry School of Education, University of Virginia

Teacher mediation has been shown to be a key factor in the successful implementation of educational games, particularly with respect to lower-performing students. There has been little previous research, however, that has described teacher mediation during educational game-play. This qualitative study used discourse analysis methods to examine classroom interaction during educational game-play, observing the classroom conversation
between teachers and differentiated student groups in four third-grade
classrooms. Results from this study revealed that discourse in the educational gaming context was overwhelming focused on the procedural aspects of game-play, rather than on the learning objectives of the game. This “procedural pull” of the gaming context was pervasive and appeared to result from several factors, including the level of procedure inherent in the game itself, teachers’ varying instructional approaches, and from the
students themselves. Results from this study also demonstrated that, contrary to previous findings in the teacher expectations literature, the lowest-performing student groups received a disproportionate amount of teacher time, attention, and content support in each of the classrooms. However, the additional teacher time and attention paid to these lowest-performing student groups appeared to come at the expense of other relatively lower-performing groups in the classes. The results of this study increase our understanding of how teachers implement educational games and may have relevance for
other educational games and game-playing contexts.

PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
classroom discourse, game play
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