Principles for Advancing Game-Based Learning in Teacher Education Pedagogy Projects

Published: 
April, 2020

Source: Journal of Digital Learning in Teacher Education, 36:2, 84-95

(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

In this analytical paper, the authors argue for empirical and practical efforts at scaffolding the centrality of teachers in game based learning (GBL) interventions.
In doing so, they address the following research question, “What principles emerge from teacher education in game-based learning research conducted from 2007–2018?”.

Methods
To answer the research question the authors examined evidence generated over 60 reports that were published from 2007 to 2018.
These reports included empirical, theoretical, opinion, and policy pieces.
The reports were published as book chapters, journal articles, whitepaper reports, and conference proceedings in premier venues on learning and technology.
They searched for reports using terms such as ‘teachers and game-based learning’, ‘teacher education in game-based learning’, ‘pre-service teachers and game-based learning, ‘in-service teachers and game-based learning.’
They excluded any report that did not include a specific focus on teachers in the use of games for learning in K-12.
To examine the evidence published in the reports, the authors adopted a thematic analysis approach because it was appropriate to aid in identifying themes that can serve as guiding principles in designing interventions for educating teachers in adopting games for learning.
Thematic analysis includes inductive and deductive analyses of qualitative data that aids researchers in identifying, analyzing, and reporting patterns (themes) embedded throughout the data (Braun & Clarke, 2006). In addition, the technique affords an exploratory orientation, especially since the area of teacher education in game-based learning is under-researched, and it is applicable to multiple qualitative data sources.
Based on a thematic analysis of the games and learning and teacher education literature, particularly in the last 12 years, the authors propose six guiding principles that emerge for advancing research and practice for teacher education and games.

Findings
Principle 1: teachers play an active role in game-based learning environments.
Principle 2: games are a form of curriculum.
Principle 3: game-based learning is a way of facilitating learning.
Principle 4: games are not context or pedagogically neutral.
Principle 5: teachers’ knowledge of game-based learning builds over time.
Principle 6: teachers’ professional identities impact their practice with game-based learning.

Implications for future directions
The authors note that the aforementioned principles can serve as a starting point for restructuring teacher education programs for facilitating teachers’ knowledge and motivation, experiences, and competence in incorporating games for enhancing their practice and student learning.
As researchers in competing and complementary fields, it is imperative to continue examining games and learning as well as processes that involve the developing and testing of analytical and pedagogical approaches that inform how teachers’ practices are supported during pre-service and in-service years.
It is imperative to continue to learn from successful games and learning studies, learn from experiences of teachers, researchers, and designers, and provide sound practices to support instructional models that may be beneficial for teacher education programs.
Establishing evidence of the positive educational outcomes that result from using game-based learning strategies in the curriculum could potentially breakdown many of the barriers classroom teachers encounter when introduced to a novel technological pedagogical innovation.
Importantly, it could unearth the black box of teaching with games that often discourages many enthusiastic teachers from incorporating innovations in their practice or forces them to resort to trial and error methods that result in unsatisfactory outcomes.
The authors suggest a set of guiding questions that complement the principles outlined above.
These questions can offer directions for future inquiry to advance research and practice on preservice and in-service teacher education and professional development on using games to support learning experiences:
1. How can we engage teachers in understanding and enacting practices that support their roles in game-based classrooms?
2. What kinds of support are integral for supporting teachers with varying technological, pedagogical, and content knowledge in the implementation of games for learning?
3. What tools and methodologies can assess teachers’ change in knowledge of GBL and motivation to adopt games for learning beyond self-reported surveys?
4. What are some ways to promote teachers’ professional identities as it relates to incorporating games in their practice?
5. How does the implicit design of games and its impact on pedagogy change how to engage teachers’ preparation to repurpose games for teaching and learning?
6. To what extent do researchers and teacher educators prepare teachers to develop knowledge of GBL and understand the semiotic nature of games as a curriculum?
7. How can teacher education programs provide standalone and integrated opportunities for teachers to understand and incorporate the methods involved in GBL in their area(s) of concentration?
8. Is it time to reconsider GBL not as a form pedagogical approach, but more as a technological and pedagogical area (games as curricula) with multiple types of pedagogical approaches?

References
Braun, V., & Clarke, V. (2006). Using thematic analysis in psychology. Qualitative Research in Psychology, 3(2), 77–101. 

Updated: Feb. 03, 2021
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