Students' interaction for enhancing learning motivation and learning success: findings from integrating a simulation game into a university course

Conference object OPEN
Otto, Daniel (2017)
  • Publisher: Valencia
  • Subject: Education | Hochschulbildung | Simulation | Motivation | university level of education | Bildung und Erziehung | learning | Erfahrung | Bildungswesen tertiärer Bereich | experience | Lernen | teaching method | Fernuniversität | learning success | University Education | correspondence university | Lernerfolg | Klimawandel | Lehrmethode | 10600 | climate change
    acm: ComputingMilieux_COMPUTERSANDEDUCATION

In recent decades, a vast amount of literature has been published discussing the educational use of simulation games in higher education. Since their emergence in the 1960s, simulation games have had a substantial effect on the way we think about teaching and learning in higher education. One reason simulation games are regarded as superior to traditional teaching is that they encourage students to interact and collaborate. Simulation games can therefore be subsumed under Kolbs learning model of experiential learning referring to learning through experience. Experiential learning follows a recursive cycle of experiencing, reflecting, thinking and acting to increase students’ learning motivation and learning success. In the broader field of education, the added value of gaming in general is incrementally becoming more evident. A large number of articles from various fields have been published stating the benefits of simulation games in higher education. In spite of the success of gaming as a tool to foster learning, the way it affects learning success and learning motivation of students needs further clarification. In this paper, I want to contribute to the debate by critically examining whether, and if yes to what extent, the use of simulation games in higher education can lead to enhanced learning motivation and learning success. Based on the findings of existing literature, boosted students’ interaction might be one key reason to explain the success of simulation games. As a case study, I present empirical findings from the incorporation of a simulation game into a university course about climate change. The course is part of a Master program on interdisciplinary environmental science. The aim of the course is to teach students the basic knowledge about causes and effects of climate change with a special focus on the political understanding of the international negotiation process. The course is offered as a blended learning course combining a virtual collaboration phase with a three-day attendance seminar. For several years, this attendance seminar was comprised of students’ presentations, scientific lectures and joint discussions. In 2015, we tested whether the use of a simulation game instead of classical teaching methods would affect the students’ learning motivation and learning success. As our results indicate, the boosted student´s interaction increased through the use of the simulation games lead to an enhanced learning motivation and learning success. As for the structure of the paper: In the first section, I discuss the potential benefits of simulation games for teaching in higher education. In the second section, I present how the simulation game was integrated and conducted during the course. In the third section, I present and critically examine the influence of the simulation game on the students’ performance. To this end, I compare data from previous course evaluations with the recent course evaluation. To secure the reliability of the findings, an additional survey was conducted to gauge whether the simulation game was decisive for the variances in the regular evaluation. In the last section, I discuss the results in the wider context of simulation games in education.
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