Digital Game-Based Learning Design to Facilitate the Development of Complex Problem-Solving Competencies in Interdisciplinary STEM
Department of Education
STARS School Program
OU Research Cabinet
NC State University
Yu (Bryan) Guo
Recent years witnessed a plethora of task forces all around the world that were set out to identify the educational competencies for 21st century workforce and the gaps in current educational systems that inhibit promotion of these competencies (e.g., Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation; International Commission on Education for the 21st Century, Partnership for 21st Century Skills, Coalition of the Assessment & Teaching of 21st Century Skills). These efforts resulted with hundreds of descriptors of the skill set, including life skills, workforce skills, interpersonal skills, digital literacy skills, and noncognitive skills. Nevertheless, complex problem solving is consistently identified as one of the most important 21st century competencies. Furthermore, all of these workforces highlight the importance of aligning classroom learning with the requirements of the real work environments, especially in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) domains. These findings are consistent with the findings of similar international efforts.
Associated with these efforts has been the discussion over the educative merits of digital game-based learning environments for effectively cultivating 21st century skills. Proponents of game-based learning especially highlighted the unique affordances of massively multiplayer online games (MMOGs), arguing that these affordances can be leveraged to serve as a situated learning environment to effectively facilitate complex problem-solving skill acquisition. However, there is a paucity of empirical evidence to support these claims. The potential of digital game-based learning is unrealized due to lack of empirically-validated design frameworks that are built on students’ cognitive and affective outcomes in relation to the 21st century skills, especially in the area of complex problem-solving skills. Due to the unique affordances of the medium, little is known as to how to design effective educational MMOGs and how to effectively integrate digital game-based learning in K-12 curriculum to promote the 21st century skill development.
In order to address this gap, this project includes an extensive design-based research study that investigated high-school students’ cognitive and affective learning outcomes related to 21st century skills during digital game-based learning. More specifically, our investigations focused on complex problem solving, motivation, engagement, digital literacy, and interdisciplinary STEM-related learning outcomes in the context of an educational MMOGs, namely McLarin’s Adventures.