Chava, our super intern, wrote a nice piece about how multiple choice quizzes embedded in games don’t necessarily make the games fun or good for learning. Check out what she has to say!
Games and Quizzes
School is known for its tests and quizzes. They keep students up at night, sometimes in a frantic sweat as they try to cram information into their short-term memories so that they’ll have the info they need for tomorrow’s exam. But how much long-term learning is there? This debate has plagued education discussions for a long time. And what about gaming? The Situated Learning theory (by Lave and Wenger) states that students learn best in context, where the learning is situated in the activity. This is immersion in a game.
It’s a start to suppose that disguising multiple-choice quizzes as games, with colorful components and the risk of “dying”, will make the learning better. But the issue is still the same – there is no need for critical thinking or problem solving, and no immersion in the subject. Multiple-choice quiz-games can be won by trial and error – “If I go down path A, I die; path B gets me to the next level. Wait, was there a question there too?”
Game designers have used Gamestar to create some pretty cool learning games that avoid the multiple-choice determiner and instead provide a fun, interactive immersion into the lesson. BobbyGurecki’s game that models the water cycle (with pollution and all!) situates the learner by placing them in the role of the water droplet – and what better way to learn about the water cycle than by being a part of it?
Boesemad’s game depicts the food chain, where you play as a part of the food chain by having to go after your food before you become food.
These examples replace the trial-and-error of quiz questions with an active situated learning approach. You can’t avoid learning when you’re a part of it. – Chava Wernick