Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

A comparative study of the effect of collaborative problem -solving in a Massively Multiplayer Online Game (MMOG) on individual achievement
by Harris, Donna, Ed.D., University of San Francisco, 2008, 199; 3317694
Abstract (Summary)

Since the early 2000s, significant attention has been given to the academic potential of a new type of online game called Massively Multiplayer Online Games (MMOGs) that take place in 3-dimensional (3D) immersive persistent worlds. MMOGs are believed to hold significant promise for educators because they provide for the player (learner) rich learning opportunities that exemplify quality-learning experiences but there is little empirical research and published work on MMOGs. The purpose of this study was to investigate the impact of collaborative problem solving during MMOG play on the individual achievement (posttest and concept-map construction scores) of 159 sixth-grade students. There were four comparison groups of existing, intact sixth-grade classes (n=100): two taught by the researcher and two taught by the regular sixth-grade science teacher and an experimental group of two existing, intact sixth-grade classes (n=59) taught by the researcher. During the 8-day investigation, the experimental group played Web Earth Online, an ecology-based MMOG, and the comparison group received traditional instruction that included multimedia-rich, hands-on, collaborative activities to learn about the life cycle and survival needs of the Eastern Bluebird. A content analysis of the log files of player dialog to assess player collaborative teamwork during MMOG play was utilized. A dependent-samples t test and an analysis of variance (ANOVA) was utilized to examine the differences in performance between the experimental and comparison groups on the content knowledge assessment and concept-map construction task. A correlation of frequencies was utilized to examine the relationship between collaborative teamwork-strategy scores of students in the MMOG group and posttest and concept-map scores. Satisfaction surveys were administered to examine game and unit satisfaction.

Results of the analysis showed that individuals who participated in the experimental group tended to have statistically significant lower posttest scores than students in the comparison group taught by the researcher (based on the 33-item test results) or in the comparison group taught by the teacher (based on the more reliable 17-item test results). Although no statistically significant differences were found in the scores from the experimental group, a statistically significant difference between pre- and posttest was found for the whole sample. Descriptive statistics indicated that learning growth occurred in both groups as evidenced by the pre-and posttest difference in means.

Moreover, nonsignificant differences among the three groups in terms of concept-map scores were observed. An analysis of the chat log files of the MMOG participants revealed that only 30% of the chats involved collaboration, with the more common strategies being Communication, Leadership, and Interpersonal. A statistically significant positive correlation was found between usage of Leadership strategies and posttest scores. Findings from correlation results show that there is a high degree of interitem correlation between the collaborative strategies identified for the study from the chat log files of the experimental group.

The percentage of responses of agree and strongly agree that participants learned from the MMOG and the instructional unit are 82%, 58%, and 75% for experimental, researcher's comparison, and teacher's comparison, respectively, with the experimental students overwhelmingly indicated they learned about the Eastern Bluebird.

The findings from this study suggested that the educational use of video games, specifically MMOGs, can be a viable pedagogical strategy. Results indicated that Web Earth Online was engaging and motivating for students and that the study indicated that concept maps are appropriate instruments to measure learning in a MMOG. Because of the growth in learning in both groups a claim can be made that the rich learning experiences in the comparison groups provided a situated-learning environment (authentic context, authentic activities, authentic assessment, expert modeling, and situated mentoring) that was very similar to the experiences of students in the experimental groups.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Busk, Patricia
School: University of San Francisco
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-A 69/06, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Educational psychology, Educational technology, Curriculum development
Keywords: Achievement, Collaborative problem-solving, Concept maps, MMOG, Massively multiplayer, Massively multiplayer online game, Problem-solving, Situated learning, Video games
Publication Number: 3317694
ISBN: 9780549657361
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