Saturday, September 25, 2010

This post answers questions (for now) about my Action REsearch. Please let me know what you think. I need the feedback.

What is your official problem statement?

My official problem statement is the use of simulation games in education. How can they be used to help students achieve better and more meaningful understanding in today’s secondary school curriculum?

I have kept my problem in general terms since I am still researching exactly what game and what curriculum I am working on. I am looking at a game called Immune Attack. The students navigate a nanobot through a 3D environment inside the patient’s body. Their goal is to retrain non-functional immune cells and save the patient’s life. I have talked to our health careers teacher about using it in one of her classes.

How did your research end up shaping this?

I knew I wanted to work on a different way of teaching. I also knew the military has been using simulation games for a very long time. It is an excellent way to teach something dangerous that will minimize physical threat to the student. Business also uses simulation games to teach a variety of subjects by putting employees in real-life situations without causing an adverse effect on their business. I have found that while some colleges and universities are using simulation games, secondary education in America has not embraced this 21st century tool. Most of the studies I have found are based on research done in Europe. At first, I was thinking of changing my area to something with more information, but as I did my research, I was amazed how much has been done in the field of simulations.

What outcomes are you expecting?

I have decided to use qualitative assessment rather than quantitative assessment. At this point, I am more interested in student and teacher responses and not so concerned about test scores. If I keep with this subject over the years, I would then have to justify my research with quantitative results. I am expecting that I will meet some resistance by both teachers and students at first. There is a learning curve to Immune Attack that has to be overcome. Students in America are used to computers giving them instant gratification on a low level. They usually are not wiling to work hard to get the right information. Once they have the information they need, they are not used to applying it. We have a culture of memorization and multiple-choice answers. So my outcome, I hope, is to show that applied knowledge can be fun, useful and satisfying.

How are your critical friends helping in this process?

Up to this point, I have not involved my critical friends to any great degree. I have talked to them all to assess their interest in my project. I have found that they have different views and should be a great help to me. Some of my critical friends are low on the technology scale. Their opinions will help me clarify my research for those who are not technology savvy. Others are using technology on a daily basis and will give me their views when I am unclear as to my direction.

How is this month’s course helping in shaping your ARP?

The video with Dr. Michael Wesch was interesting in that it gave me detailed information on how a simulation game could work with a large group. The fact that his game was not just computer based, but involved groups meeting and solving problems was very interesting. I never thought about the computer simulation as being only one part of the game. This class also introduced me to many web 2.0 tools that could be a part of a simulation.

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