Games-Based Learning and Its Instructional Power

Abstract

Psychologists emphasise integration of games in the school curriculum to enable students develop in all their faculties. Besides the physical fitness aspect, games provide students with an avenue to release the mental tension resulting from rigorous academic engagement. Research indicates that the learning process can be made more enjoyable by using games as part of the learning activities. This paper aims at investigating the instructional power of game-based learning and simulation in education. In line with this, the study will explore whether game-based learning is an emphatic method to be used for learning. Many scholars have pointed out to the fact that game-based learning triggers a sense of motivation on the side of the students with regard to the learning process. This study will therefore explore on the distinct features of games-based learning which the students consider to be engrossing.

In general, the results of this study have revealed that the use of game-based learning as a mode of instruction to the students has proved to be very effective in the learning environment. Game-based learning has the ability to relieve the students of their boredom as it engages the students, thus, arousing their interests. The level of class attendance is bound to increase with the introduction of game-based learning. The use of games has the ability to capture the interests of the students because of its experimental nature, thus enabling them to participate fully in the class work. Teachers need to design teaching content that gives some weight to games. Games provide a practical learning approach, which enables students to remember most of the content learnt. Those tasked with the design of the curriculum should as much as possible emphasise on instructional methods that make it possible for teachers to infuse games into the classroom content.

Introduction

Overview

This chapter covers the background to the study, problem statement, research objectives and hypotheses and the significance of the study.

Background to the study

The traditional teaching method was mainly based on the use of blackboard and chalk. Students view the teachers as the original source of knowledge and they depended upon the teachers so much in the learning process. With the coming of technological revolution, computers slowly found their way into the learning institutions. With its continued spread, many schools all across the world endorsed the use of educational technology. At the beginning, acquiring ICT tools was so much more expensive; thus, only advanced learning institutions could afford them. The recent technological advancements have resulted in cheap and affordable computers which can be bought by many schools (Bonnah & Unwin 2010, p. 200).

In the current world, many educators are in the centre of shifting their teaching or instruction models. The instructors are acknowledging the pressing urge to review the pedagogical practices for the students in the current modern world who are quickly adopting the internet, graphics or fantasy tools while abandoning the traditional methods of learning (Garris, Ahlers & Driskell 2002). Moreover, students in the current world contemplate sourcing for their own information as the current technology provides a wide array of learning materials. The technology-based model of learning that is adopted in the current world points out clearly the objectives of the learning experiences and boosts the learning motivations. In the same way, the technology-based learning encompasses all the learning activities in general (Garris, Ahlers & Driskell 2002). With regard to this, many learning instructors all across the world have embraced game-based learning with the aim of motivating the students in their learning process.

Research studies in the current world point out the big difference between students who have been brought up in a set up full of computers and those who have been brought up in an environment with no computers (Chiong 2010). In a world where the use of computer applications is the order of the day, there is a direct link between the efforts applied (inputs) and the gains anticipated (outputs). The opposite is true in a setup that has not yet embraced the use of computer applications, whereby there is no immediate reward of the inputs until an evaluation has been carried out. As a result of this, many students do not feel to be motivated as it takes quite a long time for them to gain from their inputs. Computer based learning often are more useful and considered to be full of fun (Bonnah & Unwin 2010, p. 200).

William Glasser who has been acknowledged as one of the biggest psychiatrists in the world pointed out that there is a positive correlation between the students’ learning and having fun. Fun, therefore, is regarded as a fundamental determinant of human behaviour. Students will delight in what their instructors tell them due to the fact that they can have fun during the learning process (Glasser 1998). In addition, some brain researchers have pointed out to the fact that the inclusion of fun in the learning process boosts the memory ability of the students as the contents that they are taught stick for long in their memory (Strauss 2010). Fun, therefore, has been proved to provide several benefits in the process of learning; hence it should be incorporated by the instructors. Neurologists suggest that when pleasure, opulence and impulsiveness are substituted by consistency and compliance, the brains of the students are hindered from processing information in a successful manner, thus, affecting their memory (Willis 2006).

With regard to education, the incorporation of computers in the learning process has yielded several tangible benefits, for instance, captivating the students’ attention towards the learning process, raising the level of students’ motivation, boosting the students’ memory, and enabling the students to adopt the necessary problem solving skills (Chiong 2010). Motivation is very essential in the learning process because of the fact that it arouses student interest. Games, therefore, encourage motivation as they allow for the engagement of the learner (Malone 1981; Bowman 1982; Provenzo 1991; Rieber 1996). Game-based learning enables the students to learn by practice; hence, they get engaged in the whole process of learning (Garris, Ahlers & Driskell 2002).

Proponents of computer-based learning point out that game-based learning carries with it the capacity to revolutionize the mode of learning in institutions. The modern world students feel more motivated to learn than they would have felt when using traditional methods of learning. The main reason why games are considered to be motivating is that the participants in the game are obliged to source for the relevant information that can enable them to meet the challenges presented by the game. The traditional learning method is very much different from game-based learning due to the fact that the students do not have to think or be creative as they are given the necessary figures or facts to comprehend the essential ones (Chiong 2010). The use of games, therefore, has a strong and immediate impact in the learning environment.

Problem statement

Games have found their way into classrooms for the past several decades. Indeed, the use of games for learning has greatly increased in the years back, several types of games instructions have been employed. Games used in pedagogy span a large range of technologies and they include digital games such as video, computer games and handheld games. Their popularity in the mainstream culture has fascinated stakeholders to question and find ways in which they might be used to engage and enhance learning in primary and secondary schools.

Despite games not replacing the role of a teacher in the classroom, they are seen to succeed or complement the role of the teacher in the classroom; making learning fun and enjoyable. For example, video and computer games allow students to simulate situations such as experiments, scientific and historical events for themselves. Similarly, they motivate students, who otherwise are weak in some subject areas by allowing them to encounter ‘real problem’ and devising ways of how to solve it. Moreover, the increased use of games in classrooms has contributed to students’ development in other aspects of their personal life. Hence, skills such as patience, discipline, critical thinking skills, problem solving among others, are learned with the use of games.

Objectives of the study

The general objective of this study was to determine the instructional power of game-based learning and simulation in education. In line with the general objective, the study examined the following specific objectives:

  1. To determine the effectiveness of game-based learning in schools,
  2. To determine the influence of game-based learning on the students’ motivations,
  3. To determine the impacts of game-based learning,
  4. To investigate the other factors of motivation that is associated with game-based learning.

Hypotheses of the study

In order to meet the above objectives, the following hypotheses were tested:

  1. Ho1: Game-based learning is very effective in schools,
  2. Ho2: Game-based learning has an influence in the students’ motivation,
  3. Ho3: Game-based has great impacts in schools,
  4. Ho4: Game-based learning comes with other factors that help to motivate the students.

Justification of the Study

The findings of this study are of great value to policy makers. It provides the policy makers with a wide exposure with regard to the instructional power of game-based learning and simulation in education, thus enabling them to adopt the relevant strategies in line with the situation. The findings of this study also add to the body of knowledge of related studies about the instructional power of game-based learning and simulation in education.

Literature Review

Introduction

This chapter reviews the theories both empirical and theoretical that are closely linked to game-based learning and perceptions of how the use of games impacts teaching in schools. The use of technology has very quickly found its way into every aspect of human life in the current world. Technology, therefore, controls every aspect of our daily lives with regard to how individuals operate and how people manage themselves. Very many politicians, scholars and other activists have expressed their opinion with regard to the need to restructure the systems of students learning in order to equip them with the relevant technological skills that they can apply in their daily lives (Chen 2011, p. 998).

The fastest growing technological change in the modern world has brought with it various challenges which are clearly visible. A student cannot be successful in life when he/she has no background of computers. This is due to the sole reason that many jobs in the 21st century are purely based on computers; without computer knowledge, a person is not well prepared for the eventual success (Amorim et al., 2011). The use of computers enhances problem solving skills just as it boosts communication skill. In the same way, it quickens the rate at which simple work can be done.

The current education trend has come with changes with regard to the content of the students’ learning. Moreover, the mode of instruction and the time of instruction have also changed. This is demonstrated clearly by the fact that in today’s society many students own personal laptops, cell phones or other gadgets that they can use as technological tools for interaction in their daily lives (Amorim et al., 2011).

One outstanding illustration of the use of technology in education is the introduction of game-based learning using educational videos. With regard to this noble innovation, customized educational video games which can be sourced commercially have emerged and they are used in several schools across the world in order to boost learning in schools. Very many researchers and scholars have pointed to the fact that the use of game-based learning in schools is anticipated to spread even further in the years to come (Amorim et al., 2011). The skills or the abilities that the students acquire when they are subjected to game-based learning are efficient to prepare them for their future jobs because their communication skills and problem solving skills will be highly sharpened.

The use of ICT in classrooms in the 21st Century

When the computers were first obtainable commercially, they were mainly used in learning institutions due to the fact that the institutions’ administrators endorsed their use to supplement the learning process (Al-Rawajfth et al., 2010, p. 55). An assessment completed around the USA revealed that several citizens supported the fact that the learning institutions should spend more in purchasing computers than any other apparatus for learning (Amorim et al., 2011). In as much as the use of computers has been endorsed by many educators, debates have ensued as to how the use of ICT should be implemented and what outcome it is expected to have on the advancements of the learning process for the students (Assar et al., 2010, p. 154).

The first computers were mainly used by the computer programmers but recent technological advancements have given rise to the emergence of microprocessors which have brought a new life to the educators due to the fact that they can be obtained easily and cheaply by the learning institutions (Birch & Irvine 2009, p. 300). As the computers became more accessible, the need and the curiosity to become computer literate grew; thus, many people accepted and endorsed the use of computers in the learning institutions. It is in line with this belief that many schools started spending more on the adoption of ICT in their learning environments (Bonnah & Unwin 2010, p. 200).

Way back in the 1990s, the computers were mainly used for communication or for obtaining relevant information through the use of internet services. In addition, the CD-ROM was introduced as a replacement of the floppy disks. The introduction of CD-ROM was a major stepping stone as large volume of data could simply be dispensed; this allowed for the teachers to easily distribute educational software packages to the students (Chen 2011, p. 998). In the 21st century, computers play two roles: the first role is that the computers are a centre of study, i.e. information and communication technology education has been introduced as a course in schools. Secondly, the computers sustain the learning and teaching process through the introduction of educational technology (Condie & Livingston 2007, p. 340). The needs for computers have been justified in the case of the call for computer literacy and the integration of the computers in the learning process (Deaney et al., 2006, p. 460).

Communication has evolved through various stages since the earlier days. People have created and adopted various ways of relaying information to their counterparts, mainly through face to face interactions or through the use of written messages (Demıralay & Karadenız 2010, 847). With the emergence of civilization, other creative methods of relaying information were adopted, most notably using smoke signals and blowing of horns; these latter innovations proved to be a faster and more capable means of communication as compared to face to face interaction and the use of letters (Elwood & MacLean 2009, p. 70). The use of telegraph emerged and replaced all the earlier means of communication as it proved to be more efficient and more reliable than the others. As years went by, computers were introduced in to the communication sector. Through computers, the use of internet became popular all over the world. It is in line with this background that the use of computers found its way into the learning institutions.

In the 21st century the education sector has undergone various reforms with regard to the learning methods in the classrooms. The changing needs for the students have called for new and innovative methods of teaching in classrooms (Erdoğan et al., 2010, p. 888); these new teaching methods have proved to have room for the diverse and changing needs of the students. One of these new teaching methods is the incorporation of ICT into the educational curricula. The use of ICT in schools has proved to be so much more effective in the learning process (Ghafar et al., 2011, p. 210). Various scholars have confirmed that the use of ICT in educational institutions has eased and accelerated the speed at which the students grasp the basic concepts in schools (Goos, et al., 2008).

Information and Communication Technology (ICT) involves the use of technology to handle and process information by bringing into play computers and the relevant software to help in storing information, guarding information, processing information, broadcasting information and retrieving information (Granič et al., 2009, p. 170). In the 21st century it is mandatory for everybody to be computer literate as computer technology is applied in every sphere of social life (Gulbahar & Guven 2008, p. 40). Research has revealed that many teachers still have limited knowledge with regard to the basic computer skills; hence, it is very difficult for them to endorse and support the use of computer technology for learning and teaching in the classrooms (Hayes, Camperell & American 1993). In today’s world, much effort has been made to train the teachers on the use of ICT for educational purposes.

Games and influence in variety of classes and subject area

Language learning

The application of games in a variety of classes and subject areas has been investigated extensively in various studies by scholars in the pedagogical field (Randel et al., 1992). They have cited that games enhances positive perception of different subjects by students of various learning stages, thus, influencing on their learning outcome. Cassell and Jenkins (1998) feel teachers have used games to successfully deliver learning content to students. They note that because learning a new language is difficult and challenging and calls for a concerted effort from the learner, games as an instructional tool, helps a learner to have a positive perception and direct his/her energy towards learning the language. In this case, games provide the learner a meaningful context (Cassell & Jenkins 1998, p. 14). Various languages have different rules which govern its learning and subsequence usage. For example, English grammar comprises of rules, which should be followed to the letter in order for one to understand and use the language coherently. Similarly, Aldrich (2005) cites that games used for instructional purposes have incorporated rules as a form of engagement. These ‘rules’ govern the use of these games in their designated contexts. Mountney (2009) is also of the same view. He notes that a game is “an activity with rules, a goal and an element of fun”. Thus, the assertions demonstrate that games can be applied effectively and used by learners in learning a language more comfortably (Randel et al., 1992, p. 265).

Moreover, games enhance cooperation because they embrace rules in achieving ultimate goals, thus, through rules, students across different levels of learning, find learning enjoyable and fun as it makes them to follow these rules while playing. As noted by Aldrich (2005), games designate a clear beginning and ending as they are governed by rules. Competition, in which most games are anchored, makes students to up their skills and initiatives so as to increase their chances of understanding language quicker. Many students have no idea on who will win the game till the game has been played. The introduction of games, therefore, makes the learning experience more fascinating due to the fact that everything has been simplified into one single package. For the students to succeed in game based learning, a greater level of commitment is required from them.

Most learners embrace cooperation and social interaction, thus, when cooperation and interaction are combined with fun, successful learning is achieved among the students in learning a language. Randel et al. (1992) draw that no matter how different games are described; the eventual pedagogical value is significant for its contribution of learning a language. Games improve teacher-student interaction in the classroom. Games establish an environment which fosters quicker learning of a language. Amory (2001) explores on this assertion by demonstrating that ‘games automatically stimulate student interest; besides an appropriately introduced game posse a higher motivating factor in language learning. Consequently, Randel et al. (1992) assert that games prompt motivation and that students get engrossed in the competitive aspects of the game; they try harder at games than in other courses. Hence, games stimulate student interest in the classroom activities, making one motivated and willing to learn.

A student anxiety level of learning a new language decreases when games are used. A learner feels pressured in a language class because they think they understand the language being taught, but in a real sense, it is not the truth. With regard to this, the students don’t take it lightly when they get disapproved or when they err. Games play a critical role here; they minimise anxiety, cultivate a positive effect and support self-confidence because students do not feel apprehensive of criticism or punishment while practicing the target language freely (Barta & Schaelling 1998, p. 390).

Ruben (1999) illustrates that games are student centred, calling for active engagement. According to Ruben, the use of games provides a more interactive platform between the teacher and the student, hence, creating a sense of motivation. This gives both the teacher and the student an opportunity to fine-tune the learning process and come up with a uniform instructional method that is endorsed by both parties. Learning has never been so motivating in such a set up. The students are able to acquire the necessary and relevant skills in a good manner (Ruben 1999, p. 10).

Games established a real-life setting in the classroom which accord students the opportunity to embrace a given language Amory (2001). In games, using a language is accorded a primacy over a language practice. In this context, games help in bringing a class to a ‘real-world’, no matter how contrived a class is (Booker 1996, p. 80). Games install a student in a practical situation and establish a relation with the ‘real’ usage of a language (Amory 2001, p. 253). Similarly, they help a student focus their efforts on outstanding structures, vocabulary and grammatical patterns as well. They can also be customised to fit the required language competency and age level, besides creating a healthy impression of competition. This creates an outlet for creative use of natural language in a stress- free environment. Games can also be embraced in various language teaching contexts and with skills in areas such as writing, listening, speaking or reading.

Mathematics

Research in mathematics has shown that many students experience challenges in grasping mathematical concepts (Barta & Schaelling 1998, p. 390). Researches, Booker (1996), shows that instructional strategy is significant in understanding of mathematical concepts, thus, successful instructions require a teacher to explore out of his/her realism of personal experience in the world of learners (Booker 1996, p. 79). It is the learner who needs to be engaged in learning to happen, that is, the learner is a person who must make an action to learn through commitment. Barta and Schaelling (1998) illustrate that for authentic mathematics learning, the strategy for teaching should be innovative (Barta & Schaelling 1998, p. 392).

The conventional strategies of teaching mathematics through listening and learning have not been effective. This has resulted in students developing a negative perception of mathematics. A combination of methods such as gaming and simulation has proved to be successful (Barta & Schaelling 1998, p. 392). These strategies have created a motivational but challenging environment, making mathematics learning experiential and activity among students. Michael and Chen (2006), note that gaming assists a student to be more realistic. Simulation games played in and outside the class improve the mastery of a given mathematical topic. Because a fundamental problem in mathematics is persuading students to think mathematics outside the classroom context, it is only when a mathematical concept is presented in a manner that connect with everyday activity enhances student understanding. Booker (1996) noted that in teaching mathematics, games increased learning in practicing mathematics lesson and conceptual skills among the third and six graders.

In conformity with the importance of games, Funk (2002) cites that for several years games have been used to teach subjects such as science and mathematics. This is because they help in integrating social, cognitive and affective approaches. They appeal to all senses of a student. Simulation, for instance, helps in testing simple hypothetical models, which involves monotonous calculations and high level mathematical knowledge. It provides authentic arithmetical answers because it requires an understanding of the problem to be solved.

Games and simulation in Student Achievement

Acquisition of New Knowledge and Student Engagement

Various researchers have underlined the contribution of gaming and simulation environments to the student’s achievement. Funk (2002) explains that gaming and simulation facilitates learning, acquiring new knowledge on specific domains and concept and other several cognitive skills such as decision making, pattern recognition and problem solving. Randel et al (1992) in their review covering 28 years asserted that gaming can be utilised effectively in prompting interest, teaching domain knowledge and shoring retention in physics, language, mathematics when specific instructional goals are targeted. Similarly, Funk (2002) noted that games supported a student’s engagement, problem solving, academic abilities, information processing and social development. These processes contribute to a student’s achievement. Moreover, Funk (2002) cites the contribution of gaming and simulation in enhancing student achievement in school. He claims that games and simulation help to develop a student’s transferable process skills, cognitive objectives, initiative, student centred learning, affective objectives, knowledge integration, creative thinking and sense of completion (Mountney 2009, p. 75).

Manipulation of Concepts

Games and simulation such as exploratory interactive games are significant for instruction in subjects such as science and mathematics. Games allow for the easier capturing of the complex learning process. This is usually so due to the fact that the complex learning process is broken down into simpler terms that can be greatly understood by the students. Besides, a student decision making and dialogue are engaged when multi-level games are used. They encourage experimentation, discovery learning and perseverance in subjects such as mathematics, science and mathematics. In these fields, principles are hazy and explored using games. A student’s effectiveness, motivation, exploration and skill increases by playing computer games (Bredemeier & Greenblat 1981, p. 312). When the appropriate instructional methods are employed in the learning process, the students will be engaged and become proactive in various dimensions. This improves their participation in the learning process and enhances their skills and capabilities. Students who are considered to be slow learners have the chance to adapt to the learning environment so fast when they are exposed to game based learning. Thus, games play a significant role in shaping the students.

Perception Structures

The involvement of a student in games enhances his/her ability to acknoedge the anticipated benefits. Aldrich (2005) found out that when a student is exposed to plays or games for a specific period of time, say 20 minutes, the student wll acquire exploratory skills which will enable him/her understand the basic phenomena in any field of learning.

Games and Effective Learning

Green and Bavalier (2003) attribute various functions in which game facilitate learning. He illustrates that a student can acquire specific skills by embracing game based learning. In a study they conducted, focusing on the use of video games, he noted that games improve motor and perceptual skills because they contribute to visual selective attention (Green & Bavalier 2003, p. 535). Their assertions are supported by Bonk and Dennen (2005) who noted that using post game reflection provides a way in which conceptual knowledge is engaged in dialogue with other students during game play. He illustrates that specific cognitive skills such as debate tools, discussion forums, concept mapping tools and bulletin boards are used to support social interaction and fostering depth of learning and discussion. Green and Bavalier (2003) also illustrate that multiplayer games are powerful.

Games as metaphors

Cassell and Jenkins (1998) demonstrate that games contribute to learning as metaphors. In this context, they support higher cognition in micro worlds and open ended spaces for experimentation. This process allows students to rehearse and formulate response activities within a controllable environment. Thus, this allows students to gain build self-esteem and confidence besides extending their potential and innate talents to further extend.

Bonk and Dennen (2005) note games such as Civilization III, Racing Academy and Revolution are widely embraced by schools to facilitate learning. The approach significant effects on how learning is conceptualised supported and delivered. These processes are rewarding and produce quality results by encouraging student engagement and increases student motivation level. By acting as a metaphor, games act as a fantasy or a real world for exploration and experimentation. Hence, this approach works well with students, thus gaining much effectiveness in schools besides, simulation in the micro world, enhanced role playing and the use of narratives (Bonk & Dennen 2005, p. 201).

Feedback

Bonk and Dennen (2005) contend that games have been significant in learning. They provide a rich and interesting context for learning to take place. Additionally, well-developed games have features similar to exemplary learning environments. These features include ongoing and immediate feedback, complex problem solving with designate goals and adaptive levels of challenge. Hence, they evoke critical and active thinking, problem solving and learning skills which are important in student learning.

Similarly, students learn in action by embracing games such as video games when they interact. This is because, they interact will various aspects of the game and execute intentional actions within the game. On its part, the game continuously responds to each single action and by this process, the player gradually establishes a meaning. Thus, how people learn by use of video games thus, how people learn with games, in a different context mimics a school situation where games are used to embrace activities such as memorisation of de-contextualised and abstract concepts and procedures.

Games and teaching of patience, discipline, critical thinking and problem solving

According to Michael and Chen (2006), games can be used to teach students important personal skills such as patience, discipline, critical thinking and problems solving skills among other. Michael and Chen (2006) illustrate that Chess, for example, is a sophisticated game which has unique move combinations and small little pieces, hence, for students, it is an enjoyable game. By the use of tablets or ordinary computers and kinesthetic exercises, students are able to learn the game and be able to move the pieces over the board. Hence, due to its intricate nature, students who engage in it are able to learn important benefits such as patience, critical thinking, problem solving and comprehension. In addition to contributing to academic gains, games such as chess cultivate discipline and respect among the students and others. In New Jersey, the United States, Cassell & Jenkins (1998) note that students who participated in a weekly chess competition showed remarkable improvements in areas such as problem solving, mathematics, critical thinking and discipline. Further, chess opens students’ minds to a new level of thinking in a manner in which most subjects based instructions did not achieve. Thus, this indicates that games are useful in imparting significant skills on a student.

Games have different capabilities in forming a student. For example, strategy games when used in a school context have a massive impact on a student (Bonk & Dennen 2005, p. 46). Strategy games allow a student to design and plan several moves, thus when strategising, a student is able to imagine what their opponents are up to next, due to this process, they help strengthen student critical thinking skills. Games contribute in instilling patience among the students. They establish awareness in a student, in that they make a student knows that there are no shortcuts; thus, thoughtful, practice and following the necessary steps in order to win is the only ultimate secret. A student must therefore learn and understand the fundamentals that are timely to advance and prosper with every game. The formula student devices contribute to a solid technique. This combined with commitment, contributes to a student achieving pertinent skills such as patience and discipline. When a student is hooked into the game spirit and brain, one gets addicted, triggering potential lifelong habits such as patience, discipline, problem solving and critical thinking skills.

Games motivate students to interact with others and compel competition and measurable objectives. This in turn translates to the acquisition of several skills in the students, such as self control. Most conventional computer games possess elements that support virtues such as impulse suppression and delayed gratification. Ruben (1999) notes, for example, that they support or teach listening and impulse control by making students to adhere to a given direction that is governed by established rules. Similarly, they have features which teach focus and the ability to concentrate.

Many researchers have linked problem solving to decision making. Hence, decision making is vital for every person in daily life (Ruben 1999, p. 10). Decision making can be natural for some students, however, for others, it should learn so that they can become critical thinkers. Games have come in handy in enabling students with weakness in decision making, which ultimately affects problem solving, to cultivate a natural decision making practice. Barta and Schaelling (1998) note that puzzle games play a significant role in cultivating problem solving skills.

Additionally, puzzle games tickle a student’s mind, challenge skills in logic and have time pressure bound. These elements allow players to think through situations while under pressure. Hence, these features that puzzle games is made up of teaching a student to develop critical problem solving skills, analytical skills among others, under pressure. In assessing the role of games in problem solving, Rolf Nelson, a psychology professor at Wheaton College, performed a psychological study to assess the impact of puzzle games on student problem solving skills (Barta & Schaelling 1998, p. 392). Rolf carried out a research on a group of students. He tasked them to solve a spatial relation problem. Rolf granted them some time before he interrupted what they were doing. He again allowed them some time with the games and allowed them to continue solving the spatial relations problem. The results were that students who played games were able to solve the problem faster, but without paying special attention to details. Those who did not participate in the game used more time; they paid attention to accuracy of details. Rolf investigation findings illustrate that gaming activity among the students provides a beneficial impact: it enhances a student problem solving skills (Barta & Schaelling 1998, p. 392).

Similarly, Fordham University investigated a group of 122 children’s scattered across fifth, sixth and seven grades (Amory 2001, p. 255). They students were asked to think aloud in twenty minutes while playing a game that they had never played before. The investigator observed children’s statements to asses if playing a game supported their perceptual and cognitive abilities. The younger children’s indicated more interests in establishing a series of short term goals which were geared towards helping them learn the game. The older children seemed more fascinated in simply playing the game. Thus, the investigation noted that the younger kids were more focused on their planning and problem solving skills while playing the game (Amory 2001, p. 256). On the other hand, the older children less focussed on their planning and problem-solving skills.

Games: A negative impact on learning?

Various researches to explore the effects of learning, especially violent related computer, video, televisions and movies have occurred over the last two decades (Randel et al., 1992, p. 270). The results have noted that violent games have negative effects when consumed by children and young adults. This is because the games affect the development of the children as they contribute to the development of anti-social behaviour and aggressiveness. According to Booker (1996) violent games have a stronger effect on child behaviour because of its interactivity nature. The General Aggression Model (GAM) which was developed by sociology researchers to integrate the most recent findings in aggression theory and research with prior models suggests that aggression is anchored on learning, application and activation of aggression related understanding archived in a child’s memory (Booker 1996, p. 80). GAM indicates that violent games and media create a short term increase in aggression. Similarly, various researchers carried out investigations to affirm this claim. The research entailed exposing adolescents to aggressive computer games and observing their response to the environment. The findings were a justifiable effect on an individual’s ‘internal’ state. Thus, they concluded that violent games and media arguments aggressive cognition. This is because, games increases creates an aggressive affective state and arousal.

Randel et al (1992) also cite that games have a long-term effect that impacts on a student’s learning process or outcome. The GMA model depicts a hypothesis that encounter with an aggressive game is a learning trial. This is because the knowledge that is acquired by a person playing the game influences his/her interpretation, judgment, perception and response to events in real life. Hence, the influence of computer game affects the learner in terms of engagement and behaviour. Psychologist note that involvement and rewarding improve learning, thus, when this claim is linked to ‘social learning’, where a child learn by acquires observing or imitating others, his/her own behaviour is affected as a result of aggressive games.

Games give different false messages to a player. These messages include; they ascertain that they can solve problems fast and with little personal investment, they assume the best manner of solving a problem is eliminating the source of the problem, that they use instinctual rather than embracing thoughtful problem solving and they assume personal imagination is not a requisite for a problem being solved (Bonk & Dennen 2005, p. 112). These messages and the nature of the games has far reaching impact on a child besides affecting a child stimuli, they affect the absorption of ethics and morals and perceptions to problem solving. Michael and Chen (2006) also claim that games reduce ‘prosocial’ sensitivity and behaviour. Michael and Chen (2006) explore a process where a player is compelled to adjust his/her emotional responses to acts of violence in ‘real’ world, attributed on the internalisation of the violence present in games he/she plays.

The brain development of a child influences his/her future engagements. Hence, when exposed to aggressive games, the brain is trained to accept what is being learned and forms part and parcel of that child. This is also affirmed to progress during adolescence according to most recent research in brain science, violent games stimulates anger center of an adolescence brain while weakening the brain’s conscience. Physically, games influence negatively on the well-being of the players. Research has affirmed that the negative implications of games include muscular and skeletal disorders, obesity and postural problems (Michael & Chen 2006, p. 56).

Games that Motivates students

Green and Bavelier (2003) cite that the conventional teaching methods involved teachers providing lectures and students completing textbook readings. This type of teaching primarily focused on the teacher and student had minimal interaction in the discussion. Thus, this method lacked motivational incentives required to hold student engaged during instructional time. Presently, student’s desires and motivations have changed; hence, instructional methods that worked in the past are not effective in modern technology dependent generation. The manner in which students interact with learning as changed.

Video Games

Green and Bavelier (2003) illustrate that Video games can be effectively used as a student motivational tool in the classroom. Video games serve as an enabler and enhance a student academic success in contexts where it is used. Most students do not enjoy reading books or doing their homework, they embrace playing video games. The challenging, fun and competitive merit of video games encourages and motivates students to want to play them every single day. Video games have the ability of portraying instructional content in a manner that is engaging than conventional classroom instructions. They offer a motivational boost that assists students to explore, learn and acquire new knowledge. The ability to relate a video game and the educational level requirement makes students excited about the content being learned. The positive influence of video games was noted by Mountney (2009). Mountney investigation suggested that instruction with video games resulted up to forty percent increase in student learning over conventional lecture instruction.

Computer Games

Computer games also play a significant role in motivating students to learn. Though some computer games constitute mixed reactions such as they constitute violent themes, require great involvement and time and can cause health effect, they are significant for their instructive and enlightening nature. Computer games comprise of several features such as goal setting, instant feedback and help. These features act as a motivation of the student making learning easy. Similarly, computer games incorporate variable payoff schedules in simulation. Hence, this contributes to students taking risks which in turn help a student to build persistence in the task he/she is doing. This ultimately improves performance, enhances student motivation leading to greater attention to content learning and retention.

Effectiveness of games as an educational tool

Many researchers have argued that games can never assume the role of a teacher, however, they illustrates that games can accomplish more things than conventional teaching practice. For example, Green and Bavelier (2003) indicate that video game allows students to simulate historical events and scientific experiments and processes by themselves. Games also are important for unmotivated students. They make them gain interest in ancient history and mathematics and reach students who have difficulties in responding to conventional teaching methods (Bredemeier & Greenblat 1981, p. 310). Besides demonstrating new concepts, games such as video games assist students to use problem solving and critical thinking to subjects they learn or have already learned in the class.

Engaging a student

Games engage students hence facilitating learning. Michael and Chen (2006) show that students notice improvement when they are allowed to use games in the classroom. Studies have indicated that students feel demoralised when they are overwhelmed with substantial information and complex subjects. Indeed, games are typically designed to simplify the complex learning process in a way that can be digested by the intended students. This makes students feel that they are making progress and improvement which is concrete and attainable (Bredemeier & Greenblat 1981, p. 310). Similarly, students feel the instant impact of their improvement as they progress with the game.

Various games enable immediate response. Teachers should criticize and correct the students when they commit a mistake; it is very essential in the learning process. In some cases, teachers tend to delay in giving out their responses as they take their time to sort the perceived errors and come up with a conclusive response (Bredemeier & Greenblat 1981, p. 327). On the other hand, the students also have the capacity to make the required corrections and avoid further errors in their. The level of interaction between the teacher and the student is very important in cementing the teacher-student relationship.

Bonk and Dennen (2005) note that games establishes interactive experiences. Games allow a student to engage actively and interact with the subject in question. This is unlike receiving information passively from a book or teachers. Games make learning a physical and active process. Games demand great concentration from the students; this keeps their brains more engrossed and their minds open up. This enables them to capture the deeper concepts of learning.

Students like to explore and engage their imaginations and play “make believe”, experiencing dream world and involving in roles that are more exciting than their real-life existence (Bonk & Denne 2005, 47). In this, games promote their experiences as an alternate reality. Games assist students to practice this in a structured and safe mode establishing an engaging experience for the student (Cassell & Jenkins 1998, p. 15). This is more significant and powerful factor in classroom learning. Simulation games allow a student to experience imaginary scenarios or historical periods, assisting them to have a better understanding of the motivation and the time of the people involved (Michael & Chen 2006, p. 45). Through experimentation, many options are created for the students. These options greatly influence the level of decision making by the students in relation to the kind of experience they have.

Motivation

Some skills in most schools such as learning the time table becomes a repetitive drilling and pure practice, thus, games opens a way of motivating students and translates these repetitive exercises fun and interesting. Motivation is very important as it improves the focus of the students in relation to learning. Game based learning creates a favourable avenue in the learning environment, thus, the attention of the students is fully captured.

Students like playing games, thus, they get to compete against their colleagues. The urge to improve and win acts as a strong motivator, thus, Green and Bavelier (2003) cite that high scores, leader boards and time races are great ways that games can establish a little competition in the student learning experience. Competition to ‘win’ in a game enhances a student effectiveness as it allows other personal attributes such as critical thinking skills, disciplined and problem solving to be developed.

Bonk and Dennen (2005) indicate that Video games allow a student to progress and grow stronger. Bonk and Dennen (2005) term progress and growth is analogous in which students learn and grow smarter. Hence, most games use some kind of progression dynamic in which the players begin as low ‘level’ with low abilities or points and then with time, they are able to gain experience, points to progress and reach maximum levels (Michael & Chen 2006, p. 112). This mode of mechanic is a vital motivator for students and especially for children.

Cassell and Jenkins (1998) note that children like to customise their characters and avatars within games. Customisation, which is a feature of most games, allows children’s to feel more connected with their character and with the game. For example, Bonk and Dennen (2005) noted that a group of children’s played a game of multiplication on Academic Skill Builders, the children’s played as little penguins moving and jumping around to solve multiplication questions.

Games rewards and fosters unlockable contents. Granting incentives for students’ performance contributes to a more effective way of keeping children’s focused on an educational game for several hours. Cassell and Jenkins (1998) illustrate that games unlocks a player’s new character, costumes and levels by completing a task or tasks on an educational content. They provide children with a distinct and achievable goal and rewards as a positive feedback for attaining the learning goals (Bonk & Dennen 2005, p. 57). Games are considered to be more exciting and fascinating due to the kind of incentives it offers the students. Students will always want to play more and more games. The incentives associated with games are very appealing and the students’ interests are drawn towards them; this gives the students the strong motivation to want to play continuously. The students are captivated by these games as they regard them to be much fascinating.

Traditional teaching/pedagogy

In schools and other learning institutions all across the world, the educational curricula is founded on the principle of ‘what’ and ‘how’; i.e. ‘what’ is taught by the teachers an learnt by the students in class; and ‘how’ the teaching by the teachers and the learning by the students take place at the same time (Hsu 2010, p. 180). What is taught and learnt in the class relies entirely on the objectives of the course, the content of the course and the expected outcome on completion of the course in terms of the students’ abilities, thoughts and understanding with regard to the course (Jumani & Rehman 2011, p. 760). How teaching and learning takes place entirely relies on the strategies of teaching and learning, the methodologies of teaching and learning, and the resources available to support the learning and teaching process (Kaffash et al., 2010).

In many cases, the teaching and learning methods always involve the utilization of a teaching or learning equipment (Kafyulilo 2010). Traditionally, the teaching and learning methods basically involved the utilization of a blackboard and chalk as learning equipments (Kan 2011, p. 22). In the modern world, overhead projectors and/or a television set are the teaching equipments that are commonly used in the classrooms for teaching and learning (Karal et al., 2009, p. 108). The use of these equipments in the learning process is most commonly termed as educational technology (Kárpati 2004, p. 22). Thus, educational technology plays the role of assisting both the teaching and the learning process (Katyal 2010, p. 280). In other words, educational technology is an integral part of the teaching and learning process as it provides a means of dispensing knowledge to the students (Kazu 2011, p. 515). In the modern world, education technology largely relies on the utilization of computers in the learning process (Kirkwood & Price 2008, p. 11).

The educational curriculum and the educational technology are greatly interrelated as they affect each other in one way or the other (Kolodziejczyk 2009, p. 29). This is justified by the fact that the type of curriculum to be implemented will largely affect the strategy or the method of teaching to be used, hence, influencing the choice of educational technology (Kumar & D’Silva 2008, p. 610). The choice of the curriculum is based on the role that the teacher plays through his/her pedagogical analysis of the education system (Kuskaya & Kocak, 2010, p. 100). Therefore, the choice of technology for learning is correlated to the desired curriculum; when the curriculum changes, the educational technology changes too (Law et al., 2010, p. 470). Traditional teaching was conducted with manual educational technology. In many cases, the teachers used blackboards and chalk to teach the students (Leach 2008, p. 800). On the other hand, the students mainly used note books or writing pads to write down the notes that were given out by the teachers (Leach & Moon 2000, p. 400).

Need to incorporate ICT in teaching and learning

Before adopting the use of computers in the classrooms, it is imperative for the teachers to build up an underlying principle. When the underlying principle is effective, it becomes easier for the teachers to adopt the use of computers in the classrooms for learning and teaching (Looi et al., 2004, p. 95). With the recent advancements in technology that has made available all types of computer software, it is imperative for the teachers and the educators to pay much attention to the educational values of the computers rather than focusing more on the secondary benefits of the computers (Loveless 2003, p. 150). Teachers, therefore, find it much easier to teach effectively as a result of the ever continuing advancements of computer technology (Luck & Peng 2010, p. 2).

Many people have viewed the use of computers in learning institutions as the way out to the educational problems (Maria, et al., 2011, p. 100). The computer inventors had the feeling that one day computers would replace teachers in the schools or other learning institutions (McCarney 2004, p. 70). There are various underlying principles with regard to the adoption of computer usage in the learning process; the first principle focuses on the organizational efficiency of the school. The second principle focuses on the computer literacy requirements of the students and the third principle focuses on the need to support the learning of the students (McGarr 2009, p. 1100).

It has been noted that the impact of using computers in classrooms have fallen below par as opposed to the anticipations that many people had (Meurant 2011, p. 32). In the traditional way of teaching and learning where radios, television sets and overhead projectors were used in the learning process, the desired output was not realized too, thus, many people have complained about the effectiveness of educational technology (Mukama & Andersson 2008, p. 158). Very many schools invest large sums of money to purchase computers and other ICT appliances with the purpose of improving the teaching and learning methods. It is worthy to note that schools and learning institutions should wisely use their resources to sustain the learning process (Nachmias et al., 2010, p. 500).

In real life’s application, technology has been viewed by some people as a means of increasing the level of productivity; to other people, technology has been viewed as a problem fixer and to a majority of people, technology has been associated with the advancement of standards of living (Natho et al., 2010, p. 410). It is in line with this historical background that the schools formulate a basis to justify the introduction of educational technology (Nawaz & Kundi 2010, p. 32). In the schools’ point of view, the introduction of educational technology has been viewed to be a way of raising the educational efficiency and also as a way of fixing problems associated to teaching and learning (Tubin & Edri 2004, p. 187).

ICT and educational efficiency

Educational efficiency is measured by dividing the educational output by the educational inputs (Voogt 2010, p. 455). It is, however, not easy to measure the educational output in terms of money in order to match the inputs. Thus, the educational output is viewed in terms of the learning outcome (in terms of quantity and quality) of the students (Wang 2008, p. 415). On the other hand, the educational inputs encompass the amount of time that the teachers spend with the students in the class, the learning materials and equipments (Witz & Lee 2009, p. 427). It is, therefore, evident that for the educational efficiency to be raised, the educational output should be increased while the educational inputs are decreased (Yelland, Cope & Kalantzis 2008, p. 195).

It is postulated that the introduction of educational technology in schools should impact the educational outputs and the educational inputs (Zhang 2007, p. 310). Learning by the students is enhanced when the teachers adopt the most suitable educational technology (Gulbahar & Guven 2008, p. 49); this translates to a higher worth of educational output. Not all the computers have the same costs; some are more expensive to adopt (Karal et al., 2009, 106). ICT and its appliances have proved to be much expensive to acquire, to set up and to maintain; this cost should be measured against the expected output (Kuskaya & Kocak 2010, p. 102).

It is ethical for schools to spend less amount of money in acquiring, setting up and maintaining the ICT appliances, while at the same time work hard to ensure that the educational outputs are raised through adopting the relevant mechanisms (Leach & Moon 2000, p. 400). A higher educational output is a proof that ICT is really effective in the teaching and the learning process (McGarr 2009, p. 1100). The students and the teachers should all work together in order to support this common cause.

Role of ICT in fixing the learning and teaching problems

It is very common for problems to occur in the teaching and learning process in educational institutions, these problems are mainly solved by the computers. As soon as the problems are identified, the computers are applied in an appropriate manner so as to solve the problems associated with the students’ learning (Kuskaya & Kocak 2010, p. 102). Before an educational technology is adopted in the learning environment, the technology should be analyzed and proved to be the best solution to the problem at hand (Almekhlafi & Almeqdadi 2010, p. 165). It is, therefore, imperative upon the teachers to utilize the educational technology in an effective and appropriate manner. For this to take place the problems should be connected to the execution of the curriculum; teachers should have the ability to effectively utilize the educational technology; and both teachers and students should have the proper knowledge on how to manage and operate the educational technology (Zhang 2007, p. 310).

Computers have been widely used in the learning process for various reasons. The recent technological advancements in terms of ICT have necessitated the need to incorporate computers in the learning process (Witz & Lee 2009, p. 427). Various courses such as, statistics, business courses and music that do not incorporate the use of computers have been rendered to be irrelevant or insignificant to the real world. It is, therefore, in order for the schools to update their curricula to match the ever changing technologies. Computers, however, do not offer the best solution to fix the learning or teaching problems; this is due to the fact that the problems associated with learning or teaching are normally caused by the students’ lack of discipline or the teachers’ lack of effective management skills (Witz & Lee 2009 p. 427). Thus, the teachers should find a way of managing the students properly rather than heavily relying on computers to offer solutions to the problems.

The common problems associated with teaching and learning that require computer solutions include: management of reports, preparation of assessments, library applications and planning of events (Voogt 2010, p. 455). There are various computer software that have been customized to perform those tasks in the most appropriate manner; hence, making work easier for both the teachers and the students.

Teacher Confidence in using ICT

Teachers play a crucial role in the learning process; they are majorly viewed by the students as the source of knowledge. Whatever method or strategy of teaching that teachers choose to adopt, it should be to the advantage to the students (Kazu 2011, p. 515). Many teachers have widely endorsed the use of ICT in the teaching and learning process. Some scholars have the opinion that when ICT is incorporated to the learning environment, the teachers’ strategies of teaching should be changed in orders to synchronize with the ICT usage (Voogt 2010, p. 455). Teachers, therefore, endorse the usage of ICT for learning because they believe that educational technology offers an exciting and a better learning environment. ICT’s availability in the recent world has enabled teachers to get access to a lot of information with regard to the materials for learning. Educational technology offers an approach that is more learner-focused as it enhances individual participation on the side of the students (Jumani & Rehman 2011, p. 760). ICT demands for shaping up of the basic computer skills in order to match with the changing technology.

The contributions of the teachers toward the use of ICT are very crucial in the learning process; they should therefore be highly skilled in order to facilitate the transfer of knowledge to the students. The motive of the teachers is to incorporate ICT in the teaching and learning process so as to make it easier for the students to participate fully in the learning process. Teachers have a wide range of knowledge in various disciplines; the use of ICT in the teaching process, thus, enables teachers to access information that cut across these disciplines (Kuskaya & Kocak 2010, p. 102).

All over the world, the quantity of information is on the increase; this sends a message to both teachers and students that they are yet to know everything with regard to their learning (Kuskaya & Kocak 2010, p. 102). It is, therefore, important for teachers to sort out the available information wisely so as to extract only what is important and relevant to the course. Educational technology offers a reliable means for gathering information, sorting the information, dispensing the information and broadcasting the information (Voogt 2010, p. 455). Educational technology has also changed over the years in order to comply with the technological advancements with regard to the treatment of the gathered information; this has given teachers another reason to widely endorse the application of educational technology in the classrooms.

In line with the introduction of educational technology for teaching and learning, there is need to revise the various means of assessing the students in the class. This is due to the fact that the current means of assessing the students still rely heavily on the use of textbooks (Kazu 2011, p. 515). The use of textbooks for assessment is perceived by many people to be irrelevant and does not fit into the modern educational technology environment; thus, new ways of analyzing the students’ learning should be worked out (Yelland et al., 2008, p. 195). For instance, when teachers teach the students the basic ICT skills with regard to gathering information, sorting the information, dispensing the information and broadcasting the information, then their kind of assessment should be more practical rather than being based on theory. In addition, when the teachers teach the students music using ICT packages, then it becomes irrelevant to assess the students by giving them musical instruments to play (Voogt 2010, p. 455; Yelland et al., 2008, p. 195).

There exist some challenges with regard to the kind of information that is accessed on the internet through the computers. One major challenge is with regard to the reliability and legitimacy of the information (Jumani & Rehman 2011, p. 760). The expansion of the usage of computers all over the world in learning institutions has eased the broadcasting of information over the internet since it has become cheaper. Due to this, false or illegitimate information have found their way into the internet streams since the mechanisms for validating that information have been compromised. It is, therefore, very important for the teachers and the students to carefully choose and sort out the information accordingly as this will eliminate the use of false and illegitimate information that are distributed across the internet streams (Nawaz & Kundi 2010, p. 32). Teachers should evaluate the source of the information and the reason why it was published or distributed before dispensing it to the students. If the source of information is from a government’s agency then it is treated with much validity as opposed to information from the private sector (Kuskaya & Kocak 2010, p. 102).

ICT Use and Other Characteristics of Teachers

Incorporating ICT usage in the teaching process demands quite a lot on the side of the teachers; they have to be industrious, energetic and persistent in order to overcome the challenges and the threats posed by ICT usage (Yelland, Cope & Kalantzis 2008, p. 195). Careful planning on the ICT usage plays a crucial role in preparing the teachers mentally to tackle the anticipated challenges of ICT. This planning process demands a lot of time and dedication; relevant resources should be made available in order to achieve this. In the modern days, it is advisable for schools and learning institutions to subscribe to relevant publications and articles with the aim of providing insight to the teachers adequately (Voogt 2010, p. 455). Moreover, all the teachers in the school should work together as one group so as to encourage each other to tackle the anticipated problems that come with ICT usage.

Many teachers still believe that the incorporation of educational technology in the learning process demands that the attitudes and strategies for learning should be reviewed. In order to achieve this, it is important for them to be endowed with the relevant practical ICT proficiency (Kumar, & D’Silva 2008, p. 610). Some teachers still lack efficient proficiency in operating computers and managing the students; thus, they should be given a chance to acquaint themselves with those basic skills. Having the computer skills enables the teachers to diligently execute their tasks as teachers and dispense knowledge to the students with a lot of ease and confidence (Kazu 2011, p. 515; Kuskaya & Kocak 2010, p. 102).

Many researchers have conducted studies on the teachers’ use of ICT and pedagogy. By virtue of incorporating educational technology for teaching and learning, teachers portray themselves as committed people towards the dispensing of knowledge. It is with this regard that the teachers need to shape up their ICT skills in order to provide the students with high quality information (Yelland et al., 2008, p. 195). It is a common notion that teachers are widely skilled in different field of knowledge; when they use educational technology to teach, the students have access to a wide variety of information. This has served as a basis for the wide endorsement of the use of ICT by the teachers (Nawaz & Kundi 2010, p. 32).

The students heavily rely on teachers in order to gain access to educational information and knowledge. Teachers, therefore, opt to employ the best teaching strategies that will fit the level of understanding of the students (McCarney 2004, p. 70). Various research works by some scholars have found out that the use of educational technology in schools has widely been supported by the teachers. The incorporation of ICT in the teaching and learning process has greatly called for the demand for highly skilled teachers who are not only highly proficient in computer usage but also possess efficient management and teaching skills (Jumani & Rehman 2011, p. 760).

ICT tools and their use in aspects of teaching, student learning and assessment

It is a requirement for schools and other educational institutions to put in place resources in terms of infrastructure that will necessitate the application of ICT in teaching and students’ learning aspects (Kuskaya & Kocak 2010, p. 102). In addition, adequate resources should be made available to sustain the infrastructure. In many cases, the tools which come with ICT are instrumental in supporting the schools toward achieving this objective. Various research works have confirmed that educational technology is only put into practice in schools when there is an anticipated possible advantage or benefit (Voogt 2010, p. 455). However, there exist various setbacks that hinder teachers from realizing the potential benefits that are offered by educational technology.

For a successful use of ICT in the education process, schools should find a precise way of fitting the desired technology to match the school’s goals and principles (Kazu 2011, p. 515). In addition, school should have a belief that the desired technology will be effective to the school’s curriculum. Other factors that the school should note before effectively adopting educational technology include: conducting adequate training to the teachers; facilitating the ease of access to the desired technology; endorsing the use of the desired technology by the school’s management; allowing for proper planning by the teachers with regard to the application of the technology; and facilitating constant on the job trainings for the teachers (Kuskaya & Kocak 2010, p. 102).

The number of students in the school has an influence on the application of educational technology in schools (Yelland et al., 2008, p. 195). Moreover, the design of the computer packages, the commitment of the teachers and the availability of the desired technology also influence the application of educational technology in the schools. The school teachers play an important role in implementing the use of educational technology, thus, for the process to be successful, the needs and requirements of the teachers should be addressed promptly. The hindrances to teachers with regard to the use of educational technology are in two forms: (a) insufficient infrastructure and (b) lack of enough support from the school’s administration with regard to the application of educational technology (Nawaz & Kundi 2010, p. 32).

ICT infrastructure is composed of provision of technological resources, availability of computer hardware, availability of computer users and the efficient application of educational technology. Computer software producers always ensure that the kind of computer software available is genuine and certified. The computer hardware on the other hand should be suitable, effective and accessible (McGarr 2009, p. 1100). The schools should plan effectively and wisely with regard to the choice of the software and hardware to use (Kazu 2011, p. 515). Before implementing the use of ICT in the school’s curriculum, the school ensures that relevant and appropriate computer software is in place to support the learning process (Voogt 2010, p. 455). Therefore, schools with inadequate software need to purchase additional software to fit the requirements for all.

There are various computer packages that are designed to suit individual use, while some are designed to be used in groups. There are also some packages that are customized for the teachers’ use only while other packages are strictly specified for the students (McCarney 2004, p. 70). In the act of teaching, teachers mainly favor the application of computer software that demand little scheduling and arrangements. If at all the teachers are involved in the designing and preparation of the computer software, then the software will have to be customized in such a manner that it only fits a particular or a specific course (Kuskaya & Kocak 2010, p. 102). Computer packages that do not demand excessive teacher involvement are strictly preferred by teachers who are less proficient in computer usage. The manner in which the computer packages are selected and adopted should purpose to satisfy the needs and requirements of the schools, particularly the students.

When the computer packages are designed to perform a particular task, the teachers should use them to perform the intended task. It is upon the school’s management to set up policies and guiding principles that govern the distribution and usage of computers (Zhang 2007, p. 310). In addition, the school’s management should give much priority to the adoption of computer packages that support the curriculum and teaching (Jumani & Rehman 2011, p. 760). In cases where the computers are fewer than the number of students in the class, the school should make policies to govern the students’ usage of computers so as to fit them all (McCarney 2004, p. 70).

Apart from being computer literate, computer teachers should adopt the necessary skills to incorporate the application of computers in the learning environment (Looi et al., 2004, p. 95). Teachers get these skills through training, even though some teachers may acquire these skills through several years of computer teaching experience; however, due to lack of opportunity many teachers have not acquired these skills through teaching experience. Before implementing any change in the curriculum, proper planning and adequate arrangements are needed so as to provide enough time to implement the change (Yelland et al., 2008, p. 195). In many cases, some teachers who have had long and persistent training on the implementation of ICT are much reluctant to respond to the curriculum changes as they feel that their jobs will be threatened. Research by some scholars has confirmed that many teachers who feel threatened by the implementation of educational technology often do not have much confidence on the technology (Nawaz & Kundi 2010, p. 32). As a result of this, the fear of losing their jobs has massively grown; even though the fear has no basis.

Another major reason why teachers feel so shy to implement a curriculum change to introduce educational technology is the change in the teaching environment that comes with it (Kazu 2011, p. 515). This is due to the fact that the teachers will be required to spend additional hours on training so as to have the desired level of competency to fit into the teaching environment. In addition, the use of computers brings some sense of control on the part of the students; therefore, teachers who had previously enjoyed having control of the class ought to feel short-changed by shifting part of the power to the students (McGarr 2009, p. 1100).

Before implementing educational technology in schools, the schools need to set a goal that is desired to be achieved by ICT. In order to achieve this, the schools need to buy computers purposely to perform specific functions (Kuskaya & Kocak 2010, p. 102). With this kind of planning in place, the schools will find a better way to incorporate educational technology in the learning process and make it an integral part of the curriculum (Yelland et al., 2008, p. 195). Teachers have their own unique teaching methods; each teacher has a different point of view with regard to the teaching concepts. The major challenges that are faced by teachers in the teaching process include: having control and authority over the class; managing the students; creating a good rapport with fellow teachers; and effectively managing their work loads.

The incorporation of educational technology in the learning environment has brought some threats to the school’s policy issues. Through the use of internet, the students can intentionally access irrelevant information, for instance, pornographic literature that is not part of the curriculum (Kumar, & D’Silva 2008, p. 610). In addition, the use of internet has also misled the students to correspond with online con-men who have ill motives for the students. It is, therefore, recommended that schools should install computer packages that filter the internet so that the students do not get the opportunity to look into irrelevant and inappropriate internet websites (Jumani & Rehman 2011, p. 760). However, it is not guaranteed that filtering of the internet websites totally blocks the students from having access to the illegal sites but it purposely reduces the probability of accessing the sites. Educators all across the world have supported the use of ICT in schools; they advocate for change of the schools’ curricula by making ICT to be an integral part of the curriculum (Voogt 2010, p. 455).

Teachers have an administrative role to play in school; as a result of this, various customized computer software have been designed purposely to help the teachers to play this role (McCarney 2004, p. 70). There are quite a number of advantages that come for the teachers by using ICT in their administrative roles: the first benefit is that the use of computers enhances the productivity of the teachers; secondly and lastly, the use of computers saves time for the teachers by greatly minimizing the total amount of time spent in preparing the lessons, broadcasting the information, assessing and evaluating the students (Kazu 2011, p. 515). The applications that come with the customized software include: lesson preparation tools, database on students’ records, learning tools and students’ assessment and evaluation tools (Zhang 2007, p. 310). Customizing of the schools’ computer software plays a crucial role in the teaching and learning process. This is so because it helps in tackling of the challenges that are experienced in the learning process. These challenges include: a large number of students using limited number of computers, many teachers relying on limited number of computers and the schools large expenditure in relation to a limited resource base (Yelland et al., 2008, p. 195).

The customized computer packages that are used in schools help in the smooth running of the school’s administration. The packages facilitate proper management of the students’ records, they facilitate communication between various school departments, they help in management and planning of financial resources, they facilitate the teaching process and lastly they help in managing the school’s curriculum (McGarr 2009, p. 1100). Through networking of computers, the ease of access of information within the school is greatly enhanced. In addition, the application of customized packages in the school’s library has greatly facilitated the keeping of students’ records and eased borrowing and lending of books (Looi et al., 2004, p. 95).

Students expect to benefit greatly from the use of educational technology as it contributes to their learning process by availing to them learning materials easily and cheaply (Kuskaya & Kocak 2010, p. 102). In addition, educational technology enables the students to have the necessary computer skills (Kazu 2011, p. 515). The incorporation of ICT in the teaching process makes the students feel more engaged and their independence is greatly increased; therefore, for the students to be highly competent in the usage of ICT, they should be prepared to adjust to the changes in the learning environment. The attitudes of the students toward education change to be more objective because they adopt a sense of responsibility and independence. In addition, the students embrace a sense of cooperation in addition to their directive attitude (Nawaz & Kundi 2010, p. 32).

Students are encouraged to shape up their time management skills in addition to being focused and attentive to the teachers’ instructions (Kumar, & D’Silva 2008, p. 610). Just like teachers, some students also find it difficult to embrace the new change in the learning environment; it is, therefore, required that when introducing educational technology to the learning environment a lot of concern should be attributed particularly to the students who have second thoughts concerning the change in the learning environment (Yelland, Cope & Kalantzis 2008, p. 195). The students who oppose the introduction of ICT feel that they need to depend on the teachers for learning rather than computers (Kazu, 2011 p. 515).

Obstacles to pedagogical ICT use

Many scholars have viewed the incorporation of educational technology in the learning environment as the right direction to take when changing the school’s curriculum (Voogt 2010, p. 455). Due to this fact, many schools all across the world have incorporated the use of ICT into their curriculum (Zhang 2007, p. 310). Even though the use of ICT in schools has been successful, there are obstacles that surround its use. Incorporation of educational technology in the school’s curriculum demands for efficient planning and preparations (Looi et al., 2004, p. 95). Without a proper planning, the introduction of ICT might not be as effective as anticipated.

Resistance to change by the teachers is one major obstacle to ICT use (McCarney 2004, p. 70). Many teachers have the opinion that the incorporation of ICT into the curriculum of the schools poses a threat to their jobs because they have the feeling that students will rely on computers more than them; thus, their jobs become irrelevant (McGarr 2009, p. 1100). On the other hand, there are some students who are also reluctant to endorse ICT usage because of the fact that they highly depend on the teachers so much that they think they cannot do without the teachers (Kuskaya & Kocak 2010, p. 102).

The high cost of acquiring, installing and maintaining the ICT machines is another obstacle to the adoption of ICT in the school’s curriculum (Jumani & Rehman 2011, p. 760). This high cost has made some schools not to meet the requirement of ‘one student, one computer’. As a result of this, computer learning has been slowed down. Computer operation demands for well and efficiently trained teachers who can teach the students so well in a way that they will understand (McCarney 2004, p. 70).

Finally, it is not easy to implement educational technology in the curriculum of the school due to the fact that many teachers are still not proficient in computer usage (Nawaz & Kundi 2010, p. 32). Many resources are, therefore, devoted to training the teachers on the use of computers so that they can be in a better position to dispense knowledge to the students with much confidence (Voogt 2010, p. 455). Students have the view that teachers are the major source of knowledge and once a teacher fails to deliver his services with much confidence and ease, the students with have a negative perception towards the teachers (Kazu 2011, p. 515).

These obstacles need to be addressed so as to ensure the smooth and effective implementation of educational technology in the curriculum of the school. In order to achieve this, a proper planning and preparation is required (Kumar, & D’Silva 2008, p. 610). Preparation comes with training the teachers adequately and effectively and also by assessing the potential benefits that educational technology stands to bring to the school. For a smooth maintenance of the ICT infrastructure schools should enforce certain principles that govern the usage of ICT (Yelland, Cope & Kalantzis 2008, p. 195). These principles should be focused toward averting the expected obstacles to ICT implementation.

Research Methodology

Introduction

Methodology is the process of instructing the ways to do the research. It is, therefore, convenient for conducting the research and for analysing the research questions. The process of methodology insists that much care should be given to the kinds and nature of procedures to be adhered to in accomplishing a given set of procedures or an objective. Methodology gives a description of distinct methods or procedures that are to be used in analysing the data. These methods or procedures stand for a creative generic structure; thus, their order may be rearranged, or they may be combined or broken down in sub-processes.

With this regard, research methodology can entail elaboration of the generic processes and procedures; as well, research methodology can be elaborated through figurative means and can be adjusted to eliminate obscurity in the school of thought with tenacious conceptions or doctrines as they associate to a specific field or discipline of inquiry especially if the philosophical and/or principle of the presumptions that signify a specific methodology or a specific study is known as reasoning methodology. A section on the methodology in academic research of the researchers will always be generally de rigueur.

The research strategy

First, with regard to the qualitative research, areas of study were chosen with determination, paying attention to whether the areas of study are in line with the features that have been predetermined. Next, the part played by the researchers was to obtain a higher critical care. This is mainly done in qualitative research due to the fact that there is every chance of the researcher assuming a transcendental or a ‘neutral’ position. Thus, this appears to be more elusive both in philosophical and/or practical terms. It is for this reason that the qualitative researchers are frequently pressed to mirror on their part in the research procedures and make things obvious in their research analyses.

Consequently, a wide variety of forms can be taken by qualitative data analysis; the forms range within quantitative research in its coverage on meaning, signs, and language. Moreover, qualitative research procedures evaluate contextually and holistically, instead of being isolationist and reductionist. Nevertheless, transparent and systematic methods to analysis are ever considered as crucial for cogency. However, the most customary division between the employment of quantitative and qualitative research particularly in the social sciences is that quantitative methods are employed to evaluate the main hypotheses. This is so to establish content correctness and to evaluate measures that the researcher believes he/she should evaluate. This is regarded as one of the striking benefits of qualitative research.

Logic and conceptual system development

For this part, choosing a logic and conceptual system of the research design is a choice between the positivist and the social constructionist. The positivist view shows that social worlds exist externally, and its properties are supposed to be measured objectively, rather than being inferred subjectively through feelings, intuition, or reflection. The basic beliefs for the positivist view are that the observer is independent, and science is free of value. The researchers should concentrate on facts, look for causality and basic laws, reduce phenomenon to simplest elements, and form hypotheses and test them.

Preferred methods for positivism consist of making concepts operational and taking large samples. While on the other hand, social constructionists hold the view that reality is subjective and it is socially constructed and given meaning by people. It is best explored through a clear focus on the ways that people make sense of the world via language. The basic beliefs for the social constructionists are that the observer is part of what is observed and science is driven by human interest.

Research Methodology

Methodology gives a description of distinct methods or procedures that are to be used in analyzing the data. These methods or procedures stand for a creative generic structure; thus, their order may be rearranged, or they may be combined or broken down in sub-processes. With this regard, research methodology can entail elaboration of the generic processes and procedures; as well, research methodology can be elaborated through figurative means and can be adjusted to eliminate obscurity in the school of thought with tenacious conceptions or doctrines as they associate to a specific field or discipline of inquiry especially if the philosophical and/or principle of the presumptions that signify a specific methodology or a specific study is known as reasoning methodology.

Quantitative and Qualitative Approach

Quantitative approach

Quantitative research approach refers to the use of statistical techniques, mathematical techniques and calculation techniques to empirically analyze data. Quantitative methodology aims at utilizing mathematical and statistical theories and models to analyze the data. Quantitative methodology validates the hypotheses and conclusions that have been drawn from qualitative methodology. The scientific procedures and processes that are utilized in quantitative methodology encompass: deriving models and theories, designing instruments for data gathering, controlling the variables empirically, and analyzing data through use of models.

Quantitative methodology is relevant for categorizing the observations or variables, examining the variables and generating statistical representations to analyse the observations. A researcher who utilizes quantitative research design has a predetermined knowledge of what to expect. In addition, the researcher employs data collection instruments like questionnaires or other relevant data collection equipments. The kind of data handled through quantitative methodology is mainly in numerical or statistical format. A strong feature of quantitative methodology is that it is the most efficient design to test hypotheses. Its limitation is that the relevant details of the variables or observations may be overlooked.

Qualitative approach

Qualitative approach is mostly concerned with the human motives and the reasons behind such motives. The main questions that come with qualitative approach are ‘why?’ and ‘how?’ in addition to ‘what?’, ‘where?’ and ‘when?’ With regard to this, a researcher utilizing the qualitative approach will tend to use smaller samples rather than larger samples. Qualitative approach strictly generates only information that applies to the designated case study; any additional information is treated as guesses. Once hypotheses are drawn through qualitative approach, they are tested through quantitative approach.

Qualitative approach gives a full detail in terms of the description of the research process. Unlike quantitative research, the researcher has no idea of what results to expect. The researcher mainly relies on observations to collect data. One limitation of qualitative approach is that it consumes a lot of time and demands many resources in terms of money and expertise.

Questionnaire Survey

Questionnaires are pre-formulated set of questions which require the respondents to record their answers usually within closely defined alternatives. Questionnaires can be administered to the respondents either by mail or personally by the researcher. Before designing a questionnaire, there are three principles to pay attention to, these principles include: principles of wording, principles of measurement and the general set up of the questionnaire.

The principle of wording entails:

  1. The content and purpose of the questions, i.e. the researcher needs to understand the nature of variables to be tapped. If a variable is subjective such as satisfaction where a respondent’s beliefs, perceptions, and attitudes are to be measured, the questions should tap the dimensions and elements of the concepts. In addition, where objective variables such as age and income are tapped, a single direct question would be appropriate.
  2. Wording and language, i.e. language of the questionnaire should approximate the level of understanding of respondents. Consequently, the choice of words should depend on the level of education of the respondents.
  3. Type and form of question, i.e. type relates to whether question will be open ended or closed whereas form relates to positively and negatively worded questions [1 -5 with 1 being the lowest] versus [1-5 with 1 being the highest].
  4. Sequencing of questions, i.e. the questions should be structured in a way that they start from general questions to specific questions or from easy to difficult questions.

The principle of measurement encompasses the principles to be followed to ensure that the data collected are appropriate to test the hypotheses. These principles include: categorization, which entails the adjustment of negative questions to become positive questions, coding, using scales and scaling techniques, and reliability and validity. Reliability indicates how stably and consistently the instrument taps the variable

While validity establishes how well a technique, instrument, or process measures a particular concept.

Validity and Reliability

Validity refers to whether an instrument actually measures what it is supposed to measure, given the context in which it is applied. Reliability is concerned with consistence of measures. The level of an instruments’ reliability is dependent on its ability to produce the same results when used repeatedly. To achieve validity and reliability, the data was checked for coding errors and omissions while coding into excel sheets. The database was also verified for accuracy and completeness of all the entries to ensure reliability of data is achieved.

Validity of the data represents the data integrity and it connotes that the data is accurate and much consistent. Validity has been explained as a descriptive evaluation of the association between actions and interpretations and empirical evidence deduced from the data. The canyon of validity is applicable to all guises of evaluation (which are both qualitative and quantitative) by coalescing scientific inquiry and rational debates to prove or disprove the outcomes and interpretations emanating from the data collected.

Survey Sample Framework

A sample is a subset of the population, i.e. it comprises some elements chosen from the whole population. Sampling is the process of selecting a sufficient number of elements from the population. The study of the sample and an understanding of its properties or characteristics would make it possible to generalize such properties to the population elements, that is, characteristics of the population such as population total, population mean, population standard deviation and population variance [parameters] can be approximated via measures of central tendency, dispersion, and other statistics.

The main reasons for sampling include: it is impractical to collect data from the entire population; sampling is time saving, in addition to saving costs and human resources. Collecting data from the entire population may occasion fatigue and increased errors; hence, sampling is widely preferred.

Questionnaire Administration

Data can be classified into two and they are secondary data and primary data. Primary data refers to the new data (observation, survey, interview, experiment, etc) that the researcher needs to collect for the research while secondary data refers to the existing data that are available in various sources including books, journals, internet, etc. For primary data collection, the issue is to focus on sampling. As far as researcher is considered, the sampling technique is significant. For example, the sample size that is determined should not be too small as this will make it difficult to generalize the data. It is to be noted that reliable results can be originated from larger sample size.

The primary data sources comprise observation and participant observation, questionnaires and interviews, texts and documents, focused group, case study, etc. Questionnaires are practical approaches of collecting data. Respondents were also given the analogue questions that were supplemented by in depth interviews. The outstanding advantages of using questionnaires are that the data are accurate, anonymous, and they can cover a broad location without any geographical limitation. The disadvantages of using questionnaires are that they could be expensive, impersonal, delay in getting results, and the response rate can be very low.

Findings, Data Analysis and Interpretation

Introduction

This section covers data analysis, presentation and interpretation. Interviews were recorded and then stored in computers for further processing. The results were analyzed using SPPS and correlation analysis. The responses of the students who were interviewed were listed in five main categories as suggested below:

  1. Out of 20 students, 16 of them confirmed that they really enjoyed their learning when it was game-based. The students had a higher affinity of sourcing for their own information in addition to corresponding with their colleagues in order to meet the challenges of their studies. The students alluded to the fact that learning was more enjoyable in game-based learning as compared to the traditional system of learning whereby the teacher just gave out notes. The remaining four students pointed out that their learning motivation did not change even with the introduction of game-based learning. Their main motivation for learning was the ability to attain excellent grades; thus, the introduction of games did not matter at all.
  2. The students appreciated that game-based learning was quite engaging especially with respects to aspects of team work, competition between teams, and the feedback received from the instructor. Game-based learning provided an enjoyable ambience to them as there is a strong social connection among the students. The learning environment is therefore rendered to be free of stress. When the students work as a team amongst themselves, a feeling of social belonging is created.
  3. The use of game-base learning helped the students to gain interest in their learning because of the fact that the students sourced for information by themselves instead of just relying on the notes provided by the teachers in classrooms. In addition, the students did not find any lesson to be boring because of the fact that they were participating very actively during the lessons. This notion was supported the fact that the results of the study showed that the class attendance was excellent during the 13 weeks of the course.
  4. The students were comfortable with the 30 minutes that were allocated for the game-based learning as it was effective in stimulating their interests. Nevertheless, the 30 minutes was not found to be sufficient enough to affect the motivation of the students with regard to their learning. The main motivation of the students came from the fact that they desired to attain high grades or scores and to have a bright future with regard to their careers.
  5. Besides game-based learning acting as a motivating factor the students, other factors such as the aims, desires and the goals of the students were the main motivating factors for the students to work hard in their studies. Some students pointed out to the fact that they worked so hard in their studies so as to attract confidence and recognition from their parents.

Descriptive statistics

Biographical information

237 respondents (52.6%) of the expected 450 respondents (mainly students and teachers) completed the questionnaires. The respondents had varied age distribution which is summarized in the Figure 4.1 below.

Age distribution of respondents.
Figure 4.1 Age distribution of respondents.

The figure indicates that many respondents were from the age group 40-49 years (43%, n=101). This was followed by respondents in the age group 30-39 years (24%, n=57). The third largest age group was 50-59 years which had 55 respondents (23%). The age group under 30 years had the lowest number of respondents (10%, n=24). The gender distribution is summarized in Figure 4.2 below.

Gender distribution.
Figure 4.2 Gender distribution.

The figure indicates that many respondents (60%, n=142) were female, whereas only 40% (n=95) were male emloyees.

Summary of descriptive statistics

Descriptive statistics (using the measures of central tendencies) were computed from the results gathered from the questionnaires and interviews. The questionnaires focused on the instructional power of game-based learning and simulations in education.

Results for the descriptive statistics

Respondents who were mainly students and teachers were issued with questionnaires in order to express their responses regarding the instructional power of game-based learning and simulations in education. The summary of the results is presented in Table 4.1. The results show that (from the sample of 237 respondents) the mean for the effectiveness of game-based learning is 113.20 with a standard deviation of 14.30. From this computation, it can be deduced that many students and teachers believe that game-based learning is much more effective. This is indicated by the higher value of the standard deviation. In addition, the calculated arithmetic means for the influence of game-based learning on motivation and the impacts of game-based learning are less than the calculated arithmetic mean for the other motivating factors connected to game-based learning.

Table 4.1 Summary of descriptive statistics.

Mean Standard deviation
Effectiveness of game-based learning 113.20 14.30
Influence of game-based learning on motivation 102.12 11.30
Impacts of game-based learning 103.10 10.80
Other motivating factors connected to game-based learning 127.20 15.30

Inferential statistics

The results of inferential statistics were used to establish the relationship that exists among the variables that analyzes the economic effects of inbound tourism. In addition, inferential statistics was used to ascertain the connection among the variables. The results are summarized in the Table 4.2.

The results in Table 4.2 show that there are major correlations between the influence of game-based learning on motivation and instructional power (r = 0.598, p < 0.01), other motivating factors connected to game-based learning and instructional power (r = 0.585, p < 0.01), effectiveness of game-based learning and its instructional power (r = 0.386, p < 0.01), and between impacts of game-based learning and instructional power (r = 0.268, p < 0.05).

Table 4.2: Pearson correlation matrix.

Pearson correlation Sig (2-tailed)
Effectiveness of game-based learning 0.273 0.044*
Influence of game-based learning on motivation 0.598 0.000**
Impacts of game-based learning 0.268 0.042*
Other motivating factors connected to game-based learning 0.585 0.000**

NOTE:

* = p<0.05

** = p<0.01

Conclusions and Recommendations

Conclusion

Psychologists emphasise on the integration of games in the school curriculum to enable students develop in all their faculties. Besides the physical fitness aspect, games provide students with an avenue to release the mental tension resulting from rigorous academic engagement. Research indicates that the learning process can be made more enjoyable by using games as part of the learning activities. This paper aimed at investigating the instructional power of game-based learning and simulation in education. Many scholars have pointed out to the fact that game-based learning triggers a sense of motivation on the side of the students with regard to the learning process. One outstanding illustration of the use of technology in education is the introduction of game-based learning using educational videos. With regard to this noble innovation, customized educational video games which can be sourced commercially have emerged and they are used in several schools across the world in order to boost learning in schools. Very many researchers and scholars have pointed to the fact that the use of game-based learning in schools is anticipated to spread even further in the years to come.

The practice of teachers using games in class is gaining popularity at a fast rate. This is especially because it is more appealing to each student and it makes learning more enjoyable and memorable. The practice is applicable to all subjects and it only requires a little creativity on the part of the teacher to effectively achieve the lesson objective to a high level. Teachers who are not well experienced in the use of games in the classroom can now access resources on the internet on the best practice of transferring games to the classroom. When effectively used, games can facilitate learning because they enable students to learn important life virtues such as problem solving skills, patience, critical thinking skills and discipline among others. Also, they add value to learning as they encourages conceptualising imagined phenomenon to real life experiences. Despite the positive effects that games bring in a learning environment, improper use can have adverse effects on a student. Effects such as health problems, abnormal behaviours such as aggressiveness and poor time management can result as a result of improper administration of games.

The use of games has strong educational values since it is a very sufficient resource for improving the standards of learning. Students are encouraged to shape up their time management skills in addition to being focused and attentive to the teachers’ instructions. Just like teachers, some students also find it difficult to embrace new change in the learning environment. Therefore, it is prudent that, when introducing educational technology to the learning environment, a lot of concern should be attributed particularly to the students who have second thoughts concerning change in the learning environment.

Recommendations

Proponents of computer-based learning point out that game-based learning carries with it the capacity to revolutionize the mode of learning in institutions. The modern world students feel more motivated to learn than they would have felt when using traditional methods of learning. The main reason why games are considered to be motivating is that the participants in the game are obliged to source for the relevant information that can enable them to meet the challenges presented by the game. Traditional learning method is very much different from game-based learning due to the fact that students do not have to think or be creative as they are given the necessary figures or facts to comprehend the essential ones. The use of games, therefore, has a strong and immediate impact in the learning environment. The increased use of games in the classrooms has contributed to students’ development in other aspects of their personal life. Hence, skills such as patience, discipline, critical thinking skills, problem solving among others, are learned with the use of games.

In the future, researchers should look into the various aspects of game-based learning that offer motivation to the students. In addition, the researchers need to come up with the various measures of learning gains and also the degrees of learning. Finally, future studies should explore the effectiveness of game-based learning amongst mentally challenged students.

Possible questions and answers

QUESTIONS ANSWERS
What is your thesis about? My thesis is all about assessing the effectiveness of using games to assist in learning purposes in schools.
In one sentence, what is your thesis? The instructional power of game-based learning and simulation in education
What have you done that merits a Master? My research work fits the requirement of a master level.
What is the theoretical and conceptual framework? The dependent variable is game-based learning in schools; the explanatory variables are: the effectiveness of game based learning, the influence of game based learning, the impacts of game based learning, and factors of motivation associated to game based learning.
Why did you decide to undertake this specific project? This paper aims at investigating the instructional power of game-based learning and simulation in education. In line with this, the study will explore whether game-based learning is an emphatic method to be used for learning. Many scholars have pointed out to the fact that game-based learning triggers a sense of motivation on the side of the students with regard to the learning process. This study will therefore explore on the distinct features of games-based learning which the students consider to be engrossing.
What are the motivations for your research? Psychologists emphasise integration of games in the school curriculum to enable students develop in all their faculties. Besides the physical fitness aspect, games provide students with an avenue to release the mental tension resulting from rigorous academic engagement. Research indicates that the learning process can be made more enjoyable by using games as part of the learning activities.
Where did your research-project come from? My young son has a great passion for video games, and I being a teacher, was engrossed by that fact. I started to think in the context of incorporating games in the learning process, hence, the research.
Why and how you selected the problem to investigate ;the instruments for data collection you chose The problem to investigate came with my personal conviction to research in this field. There was inadequate literature in this field, therefore, I relied on primary data using questionnaires to collect data from a given sample.
How did your research-questions emerge? I designed my research questions to be in line with the general and specific objectives of the study.
Why are your research questions interesting or important? My research questions are relevant because they are SMART – Specific, Measurable, Accurate, Realistic and Time-bound.
Why is the problem you have tackled worth tackling? The problem is worth tackling due to the fact the modern children are so much attracted to computer games rather than school work, thus, I found the need to package the students’ learning with computer games and satisfy all their interests.
What are the main aims, questions, hypotheses? The general objective of this study was to determine the instructional power of game-based learning and simulation in education. In line with the general objective, the study examined the following specific objectives:
  1. To determine the effectiveness of game-based learning in schools,
  2. To determine the influence of game-based learning on the students’ motivations,
  3. To determine the impacts of game-based learning,
  4. To investigate the other factors of motivation that is associated with game-based learning.
What is the theoretical and conceptual framework? The dependent variable is game-based learning in schools; the explanatory variables are: effectiveness of game based learning, the influence of game based learning, the impacts of game based learning, and factors of motivation associated to game based learning.
What are the basic assumptions of your study? My study had these assumptions:
  1. Game-based learning is very effective in schools,
  2. Game-based learning has an influence in the students’ motivation,
  3. Game-based has great impacts in schools,
  4. Game-based learning comes with other factors that help to motivate the students.
How would you build on this research? My research is backed up by the current literature relating to the introduction of game based learning in schools. Various cases have been identified as examples in order to emphasize on the points.
How have you evaluated your work? The findings of my work are in conformity with the findings of other scholars who have done related research on the same topic.
What are the strongest/weakest parts of your work? The strongest part of my research is the in-depth literature review section, which provides all the facts related to game based learning.
What are the main weaknesses with what you did and why are they there? My research never touched on the effectiveness of game based learning amongst the mentally challenged students, due to inadequate literature; thus, future research should explore on the same.
Where did you go wrong? My paper was in conformity with the dissertation guidelines.
How you solved your problem? N/A
What was the most challenging aspect of your study? The challenging part of my study was the data collection section; many people were reluctant to give their views.
What are you most proud of, and why? Am proud of the data analysis as it brings about the real picture.
Where is the novelty? My research relied so much on primary data unlike other studies that purely use secondary data.
What surprises did you find in your study? I was surprised that many people shared the same sentiments that game based learning should be incorporated into the curriculum.
What is important, new and good in your thesis? My research relied so much on primary data; thus, it represents the real picture on the ground, unlike other studies that purely use secondary data.
What would you change if you were to do the study again? I would explore on the effectiveness of game-based learning amongst mentally challenged students.
What you’d change about your project if you had to Do it over again, or what you’re most pleased with, or consider your most original contribution to the subject. I would explore on the effectiveness of game-based learning amongst mentally challenged students. My research relied so much on primary data; thus, it represents the real picture on the ground, unlike other studies that purely use secondary data.
If you did it again what would you do differently? I would change my objectives to cover the effectiveness of game-based learning amongst mentally challenged students.
What would you do differently if you were setting out to do it today? I would change my objectives to cover the effectiveness of game-based learning amongst mentally challenged students.
In hindsight, is there any aspect of the research that you would do differently? I would change my objectives to cover the effectiveness of game-based learning amongst mentally challenged students.
Looking back, what might you have done differently? I would change my objectives to cover the effectiveness of game-based learning amongst mentally challenged students.
What is the main contribution of your thesis? The findings of this study are of great value to policy makers. It provides the policy makers with a wide exposure with regard to the instructional power of game-based learning and simulation in education, thus enabling them to adopt the relevant strategies in line with the situation.
What are the major contributions and what have you done that merits a Master? The findings of this study also add to the body of knowledge of related studies about the instructional power of game-based learning and simulation in education.
What have been the significant contributions of your research? The findings of this study also add to the body of knowledge of related studies about the instructional power of game-based learning and simulation in education.
In what ways does this research make a significant contribution to your particular field of study? The findings of this study also add to the body of knowledge of related studies about the instructional power of game-based learning and simulation in education.
What is the most important contribution your study can make to your profession or society ? The findings of this study are of great value to policy makers. It provides the policy makers with a wide exposure with regard to the instructional power of game-based learning and simulation in education, thus enabling them to adopt the relevant strategies in line with the situation.
Where do current technologies fail such that you (could) make a contribution? The current technology have not adequately explored this field, thus, my research acts as an eye opener.
How do your contributions generalize? My contributions have both social aspects, in terms of learning in schools and economic aspects, in terms of planning.
How did your course work at the university prepare you for your dissertation work? I acquired research skills that enabled me to come up with a very detailed research.
What is the methodology you chose and the way your data were analysed? I used the qualitative research approach for the methodology. My data was analysed using the SPSS software.
Comment on and justify your research methodology Qualitative approach gives a full detail in terms of the description of the research process. Unlike quantitative research, the researcher has no idea of what results to expect. The researcher mainly relies on observations to collect data.
Why did you select the method? Qualitative approach strictly generates only information that applies to the designated case study; any additional information is treated as guesses.
Why have you done it this way? A researcher utilizing the qualitative approach will tend to use smaller samples rather than larger samples.
What are the alternatives to your approach? Another alternative is to use the quantitative approach.
How would you summarize your findings to a practitioner in a few sentences? The use of games has strong educational values since it is a very sufficient resource for improving the standards of learning. Students are encouraged to shape up their time management skills in addition to being focused and attentive to the teachers’ instructions.
Summarise your key findings. What’s original about your work? When effectively used, games can facilitate learning because they enable students to learn important life virtues such as problem solving skills, patience, critical thinking skills and discipline among others. Also, they add value to learning as they encourages conceptualising imagined phenomenon to real life experiences.
What specific aspect of your findings can be taken to practice? The practice of teachers using games in class is gaining popularity at a fast rate. This is especially because it is more appealing to each student and it makes learning more enjoyable and memorable. The practice is applicable to all subjects and it only requires a little creativity on the part of the teacher to effectively achieve the lesson objective to a high level.
What are the principal findings of this research project? The use of games has strong educational values since it is a very sufficient resource for improving the standards of learning. Students are encouraged to shape up their time management skills in addition to being focused and attentive to the teachers’ instructions.
Is there an alternative interpretation of your findings? My findings are clear.
How do they compare the findings of other projects within the field? My findings are in conformity with other related findings.
Based on your findings, what will your next research project be? My next research topic will explore the effectiveness of game-based learning amongst mentally challenged students
How would a policy maker be able to utilize your findings? It provides the policy makers with a wide exposure with regard to the instructional power of game-based learning and simulation in education, thus enabling them to adopt the relevant strategies in line with the situation.
What will you do, personally, with the findings to make a difference? I will publish my research and make it available for the relevant stakeholders.
What are the openings? How could you improve your work? The findings of this study add to the body of knowledge of related studies about the instructional power of game-based learning and simulation in education.
Will your research change current thinking in the field? If so how? It will change in a positive proactive manner.
How will you communicate your work to other scholars in your field? My research will be published and will be available for everyone to look at.
What advice would you give a student who is starting the dissertation process and considering using the methodology you used? The student should first be well equipped with the relevant research skills and academic background to handle the research.
What is the implication of your work in your area? What does it change? It changes the perception that people initially had with regard to the use of games by young children, games can now be used as an accompaniment to learning in schools.
How generalizable is your study ? It is applicable in the current sphere of life.
How can your research be used in practice? My research is very practical with regard to the recommendations that game based learning can be well adopted in schools.
I ask you to address what future projects you envision developing out of your study Future studies should explore on the effectiveness of game-based learning amongst mentally challenged students.
Where do you see this kind of research moving in the future? It is the threshold to every future research work in this field.
What do you plan to do with the thesis? I plan to publish it and make it available for other researchers to refer to it.
Based on your findings, what will your next research project be? My next research will have to explore on the effectiveness of game-based learning amongst mentally challenged students.
Do you intend to collaborate with another scholar?
Do you intend to revise it for publication as a book? That is another option I have to give a long shot at.
Do you intend to do further research on your topic? If I realize there are short comings, I can further review the research.
How you reached your conclusions? My conclusions are in line with the findings.

Slide presentation

Topic: The Instructional Power of Games-based Learning and Simulations in Education

Abstract

Psychologists emphasise integration of games in the school curriculum to enable students develop in all their faculties. Besides the physical fitness aspect, games provide students with an avenue to release the mental tension resulting from rigorous academic engagement. Research indicates that the learning process can be made more enjoyable by using games as part of the learning activities.

Introduction

  • The traditional teaching method was mainly based on the use of blackboard and chalk. Students view the teachers as the original source of knowledge and they depended upon the teachers so much in the learning process. With the coming of technological revolution, computers slowly found their way into the learning institutions.
  • Research studies in the current world point out the big difference between students who have been brought up in a set up full of computers and those who have been brought up in an environment with no computers (Chiong 2010). In a world where the use of computer applications is the order of the day, there is a direct link between the efforts applied (inputs) and the gains anticipated (outputs).

Problem statement

  • Games have found their way into classrooms for the past several decades. While different types of games and instructional approaches have differed, they have been considerably utilised for pedagogical purposes in the last several years. Games used in pedagogy span a large range of technologies and they include digital games such as video, computer games and handheld games.
  • Despite games not replacing the role of a teacher in the classroom, they are seen to succeed or complement the role of the teacher in the classroom; making learning fun and enjoyable. For example, video and computer games allow students to simulate situations such as experiments, scientific and historical events for themselves. Similarly, they motivate students, who otherwise are weak in some subject areas by allowing them to encounter ‘real problem’ and devising ways of how to solve it.

Objectives of the study

The general objective of this study was to determine the instructional power of game-based learning and simulation in education. In line with the general objective, the study examined the following specific objectives:

  1. To determine the effectiveness of game-based learning in schools,
  2. To determine the influence of game-based learning on the students’ motivations,
  3. To determine the impacts of game-based learning,
  4. To investigate the other factors of motivation that is associated with game-based learning.

Hypotheses of the study

In order to meet the above objectives, the following hypotheses were tested:

  1. Ho1: Game-based learning is very effective in schools,
  2. Ho2: Game-based learning has an influence in the students’ motivation,
  3. Ho3: Game-based has great impacts in schools,
  4. Ho4: Game-based learning comes with other factors that help to motivate the students.

Literature review

  • Way back in the 1990s, the computers were mainly used for communication or for obtaining relevant information through the use of internet services. In addition, the CD-ROM was introduced as a replacement of the floppy disks. The introduction of CD-ROM was a major stepping stone as large volumes of data could simply be dispensed; this allowed for the teachers to easily distribute educational software packages to the students (Chen 2011, p. 998). In the 21st century, computers play two roles: the first role is that the computers are a centre of study, i.e. information and communication technology education has been introduced as a course in schools.
  • In schools and other learning institutions all across the world, the educational curricula is founded on the principle of ‘what’ and ‘how’; i.e. ‘what’ is taught by the teachers and learnt by the students in class; and ‘how’ the teaching of the teachers and the learning by the students take place at the same time (Hsu 2010, p. 180). What is taught and learnt in the class relies entirely on the objectives of the course, the content of the course and the expected outcome on completion of the course in terms of the students’ abilities, thoughts and understanding with regard to the course (Jumani & Rehman 2011, p. 760).
  • Many people have viewed the use of computers in learning institutions as the way out of the educational problems (Maria, et al., 2011, p. 100). The computer inventors had the feeling that one day computers would replace teachers in the schools or other learning institutions (McCarney 2004, p. 70). There are various underlying principles with regard to the adoption of computer usage in the learning process; the first principle focuses on the organizational efficiency of the school. The second principle focuses on the computer literacy requirements of the students and the third principle focuses on the need to support the learning of the students (McGarr 2009, p. 1100).

Conclusion

The practice of teachers using games in class is gaining popularity at a fast rate. This is especially because it is more appealing to each student and it makes learning more enjoyable and memorable. The practice is applicable to all subjects and it only requires a little creativity on the part of the teacher to effectively achieve the lesson objective to a high level. Teachers who are not well experienced in the use of games in the classroom can now access resources on the internet on the best practice of transferring games to the classroom. When effectively used, games can facilitate learning because they enable students to learn important life virtues such as problem solving skills, patience, critical thinking skills and discipline among others. Also, they add value to learning as they encourages conceptualising imagined phenomenon to real life experiences.

Recommendations

In the future, researchers should look into the various aspects of game-based learning that offer motivation to the students. In addition, the researchers need to come up with the various measures of learning gains and also the degrees of learning. Finally, future studies should explore the effectiveness of game-based learning amongst mentally challenged students.

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Appendix 1

Questionnaire

This is an academic research study and your participation is voluntary. Information provided will be confidentially and individual data will be reported. THANK

YOU! ————————————————————————————————————

Part A

Demographic questions
  1. What is your Sex?
    1. Male
    2. Female
  2. What is your Job Title?
  3. Do you supervise others?
    1. Yes
    2. No
  4. What is your Age Group?
    1. Under 26
    2. 26 to 35
    3. 36 to 45
    4. 46 to 55
    5. 56 to 65
    6. 66 or older
  5. What is your highest level of Education?
    1. Did not complete High School
    2. Some master’s credits, no degree
    3. High school degree/equivalent
    4. Master’s degree
    5. Some college, no degree
    6. Some post-master’s credits, no degree
    7. Associate’s/2-year degree
    8. Doctorate degree or professional degree
    9. Bachelor’s degree
  6. What is your Race?
    1. White
    2. Black
    3. Asian/Pacific Islander
    4. Native American
    5. Other

Part B

  1. Are you a par- time or a full-time teacher/student?
  2. Have you used game based learning?
  3. Are you satisfied with game based learning?
    1. Not satisfied
    2. Less Satisfied
    3. Moderately Satisfied
    4. Very satisfied.
  4. Do you prefer to use game based learning?
  5. What kind of benefits come with game based learning?
  6. How do you rate the use of game based learning?
    1. Bad
    2. Not sure
    3. Good
    4. Excellent

Part C

The following 10 statements describe your views in relation to the introduction of game based learning. Please respond by indicating the degree to which each of the statements applies to you using the following scale:

1
Strongly
Disagree
2
Disagree
3
Slightly
Disagree
4
Neither
Agree of
Disagree
5
Slightly
Agree
6
Agree
7
Strongly
Agree

There is no right or wrong answer. Write the number that best indicates to what extent each of the statement is true or not true in the parenthesis provided at the end of each statement.

  1. I would be very happy to use game based learning [ ]
  2. I enjoy lessons done through game based learning [ ]
  3. Game based learning is highly effective [ ]
  4. The use of game based learning enhances the motivation to learn [ ]
  5. Game based learning has significant impacts [ ]
  6. Game based learning instigates other related motivation factors to learning [ ]
  7. Game based learning engages a student’s mind [ ]
  8. Game based learning has some negative impacts [ ]
  9. Game based learning enhances patience, discipline, critical thinking and problem solving skills [ ]
  10. Game based learning influences a student’s perfomance [ ]