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Blair Frame - Childhood Studies Game Design Narrative

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Blair Frame
22 March 2014

Summary

This narrative shows the design of a scenario to improve students critical decision making.

Context

Age: 18+ Level 4 (First year of University) Childhood Studies students at University College Birmingham. Lecturer was interested in how he could give the class an interactive scenario to help them improve decision / analysis skills.

Material

The scenario story itself has been written by the lecturer and is purely fictitious but draws heavily on his own experiences working within the world of education. We decided to use a programme called 'Articulate Storyline' to produce the work with myself doing all of the design and illustration work to make the scenario appealing to the students.

Social

The tutor is popular amongst staff and students and is well known for his innovative use of technology in his teaching. The students in the class get on well with each other and the tutor. This project was initiated and driven by the tutor as he wanted to find a new way to engage his students in an almost life like situation to test their attainment of knowledge from previous weeks of teaching.

Intentional

What are the protagonists beliefs, desires and intentions, which shape the problem space?

The tutor's initial reason for deciding to push this idea further was that he found the current way he was testing the students critical decision making skills did not provide clear enough evidence that they where actually learning anything. He wished to find an easier way to assess whether information he had given them had sunk in and he could see an outcome through the use of a scenario. His belief was that by offering them a realistic situation the students would start to take ownership of the knowledge and conditioning they had been taught by applying it to something they may have to deal with when they begin to work with children in the future.

Challenge

The goals of the scenario game where for students to:

  • Increase their ability to make decisions.
  • Understand what information use or discard.
  • Improve their analysis skills to choose relevant information.
  • Learn how to take responsibility for their own actions.

Actions

  • Students where asked to log onto the VLE in the lesson and open up the scenario game. They were then asked to play through the game spending 20 minutes reading the scenario itself and making notes.
  • Then they were asked to go to the next part of the game which showed the students 9 pieces of brief information in the form of a Headline.
  • They were then told to select only 3 pieces of information to look at by using the notes they have made - once they had selected the three info snippets they could look at the more in depth info that was hidden behind it.
  • When they have read through this expanded info they are asked to go to the final page and select an answer to the question posed in the scenario.
  • When they have answered, either if they have gotten it right or wrong they are provided with feedback on the scenario.
  • The student can play through the scenario as many times as they want.
  • The teacher then explained what the point of the exercise was to the students.

Obstacles

  • It was hard to get the students to undertake the task without speaking with peers - it may have been better to ask them to do the scenario whilst at home or alone.
  • The software used had limitations which didn't allow some restrictions - we had to explain to the students that they could only view 3 pieces of info and we had to trust that they would do this.

Results

From the feedback the tutor recieved from his students it was a positive exercise and they felt that they gained a lot more ownership of knowledge and felt that they had improved their fundamental analytical skills by application. They found it more rewarding to play through a scenario and see some sort of outcome from the decisions they made.

The feedback that the tutor gave me, it was also positive and he was extremely pleased with the way it was designed and illustrated - which made the students more willing to engage. We have decided to rework the idea as the tutor saw some areas for improvement and we are now planning to develop the game and make it more complex.

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