Inquiry Learning? Try a Game — Jeffrey Adams, Crescent School, Canada

  • Pedagogical Approaches (2011-12)

Game-based learning (GBL) has become a hot topic within education. In the 2011 Horizon Report (Johnson, Smith, Willis, Levine & Haywood 2011), games-based learning was considered one of the trends to watch in the next few years. As yet, however, there is little research on how it affects student performance and engagement, and, more specifically, boys’ engagement in acts of learning. The researcher was interested in games-based learning and, more specifically, how games-based learning could engage boys as learners. Through action research he sought to answer the question: “What effect will game-based learning have on boys’ engagement and performance?” Eighty Grade 7 boys were involved in a digital summative task on Sustainability in which the computer game Minecraft became the platform of choice for most boys. The use of a game-based option allowed for a creative and open-ended environment. The task was a collaborative one in which each student was given a particular role—farmer, builder, miner. The boys could create a sustainable village and/or world, focussed on resource use.