Teacher Attitudes Toward Game-based Learning in History Education

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Abstract

Game-based learning (GBL) is an emerging field reaching new contexts. Research has reported about students’ rich use of digital games and the learning potential of GBL in traditional school subjects. Digital games have been tested as educational tools in various subjects in Swedish schools during the last decade, in areas such as teaching and learning of history and foreign languages. However, there is a lack of detailed research on attitudes toward the use of GBL in history education.

Main aim of the study was to examine and discuss attitudes toward an increased use of digital games in formal history education. Earlier studies have analysed students’ opinions and preferences, but this study has a focus on the teacher perspective and on which design factors are important if digital games should be an alternative for self-learning in history education. The research approach has been qualitative cross-sectional study where secondary school teachers have answered questionnaires with open-ended questions on their view of didactics and the use of GBL in formal education. All selected respondents are registered as professional secondary school history teachers. Furthermore, teachers have described their own gaming habits and their game design preferences.

Findings show that a majority of the informants have good knowledge about digital games with historical setting and also a positive attitude toward an increased use of GBL. Secondary school teachers also have a tradition of using various media in their teaching and learning activities and there are neither any regulations against an increased use of digital games. An important aspect of history education, where digital games might not the first choice, is in the description of the main changes and influence of a historical époque. Authors’ recommendation is to use games that can enable tangential learning where the gaming sessions could be seen as appetisers for further and deeper learning.

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