The use of game-based learning strategies in higher education has shown promise to increase student motivation and achievement. Little is known about which game mechanics are most appropriate and effective for learners at different academic levels. This article examines teacher selection and implementation of game mechanics in 27 courses from middle school to higher education designed with game-based learning.27 educators participated in an open-ended survey on the design of their course. Measures included an open response survey on patterns and design of game mechanics with results validated through member checking. Findings included different choices of game attributes and game elements in courses in middle school, high school, and higher education. Teacher selection and inclusion of game mechanics changed over time to better meet the needs of students. The structure of game-based learning at different levels will vary to meet the developmental and academic needs of students, but more work is needed in determining which strategies are most effective for learning.
Nadolny, L., Alaswad, Z., Culver, D., & Wang, W. (2017). Designing With Game-Based Learning: Game Mechanics From Middle School to Higher Education. Simulation & Gaming, 1046878117736893.
The combination of print materials and augmented reality in education is increasingly accessible due to advances in mobile technologies. Using familiar paper-based activities overlaid with digital items, also known as interactive print, educators can create a custom learning experience for students. There is very little guidance on the design of interactive print activities, particularly methods used to structure the appropriate levels of cognitive load for engagement with content. This study examined over 13 000 data points in two different interactive print activities for trends and patterns in user engagement. The results showed that the instructional design, number of digital interactions and pedagogical strategies influenced user interactions within the activity. In particular, a page designed with immersion, instant feedback, a focused task and high level cognitive tasks engaged users to interact with the digital content.
Nadolny, L. (2017). Interactive print: The design of cognitive tasks in blended augmented reality and print documents. British Journal of Educational Technology 48(3), 814-823.
The interdisciplinary science of conservation biology provides undergraduate biology students with the opportunity to connect the biological sciences with disciplines including economics, social science and philosophy to address challenging conservation issues. Because of its complexity, students do not often have the opportunity to practise conservation biology. To increase exposure to this science, this paper describes a virtual rainforest island on which students collect data related to forest carbon storage, while also confronting ethical issues. Students are asked to independently make decisions, collect data and explore the island before writing a research report with recommendations for the future management of the island’s forests. The ethics of decision-making are addressed in the students’ research reports and are reinforced through guided class discussion. Students will complete this activity with increased ethical awareness, as well as a better understanding of the challenges associated with the practise of conservation biology.
Schedlbauer, J., Nadolny, L., & Woolfrey, J. (2016). Practicing conservation biology in a virtual rainforest world. Journal of Biological Education, 50(3), 320-328.
The use of game-based learning strategies in higher education has shown promise to increase student motivation and achievement. Although studies have begun to explore the structuring of courses as a game, little is known on who benefits the most from this type of instructional environment.
Aim This research study explored the impact of a large lecture course designed with game-based learning on participation and achievement. Game elements included narrative, quests, points, feedback, and badges. 71 undergraduate students participated in a case study utilizing a mixed methodsapproach. Measures included course achievement, course participation, and a survey on beliefs and practices. Findings indicated students in a large course structured with game-based learning maintained high participation and persistence in meeting course requirements. In addition, overall achievement was not significantly correlated with age, gender, learning style, or game use, contradicting the research literature on game-based learning. The use of game-based learning is beneficial for engaging all students in large lecture courses, but more work is needed in determining which strategies are most effective for learning.
Nadolny, L. & Halabi, A. (2016). Student participation and achievement in a large lecture course designed with game-based learning. Simulation & Gaming, 47(1), 51-72.
In this article the authors present the concept of Coding Literacy and describe the ways in which coding apps can support the development of Coding Literacy and disciplinary and digital literacy skills. Through detailed examples, we describe how coding apps can be integrated into literacy instruction to support learning of the Common Core English Language Arts standards. The authors also provide suggestions for getting started with coding apps and discuss aspects of instruction for teachers to consider as they plan to integrate coding apps into their classrooms.
Hutchison A., Nadolny L., Estapa A. (2016). Using Coding Apps to Support Literacy Instruction and Develop Coding Literacy. The Reading Teacher, 69(5), 493–503. doi: 10.1002/trtr.1440