Teacher Attitudes Toward Game-based Learning in History Education

Open access


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.

If the inline PDF is not rendering correctly, you can download the PDF file here.

  • Admiraal W. Huizenga J. Akkerman S. & Ten Dam G. (2011). The concept of flow in collaborative game-based learning. Computers in Human Behavior 27(3) 1185-1194.

  • Braun V. & Clarke V. (2006). Using thematic analysis in psychology. Qualitative research in psychology 3(2) 77-101.

  • Breuer J. S. & Bente G. (2010). Why so serious? On the relation of serious games and learning. Eludamos. Journal for Computer Game Culture 4(1) 7-24.

  • Bryman A. (2006). Integrating quantitative and qualitative research: how is it done? Qualitative research 6(1) 97-113.

  • Creative Assembly (2004). Rome: Total War [PC game]. Santa Monica California United States: Activision Publishing Inc. Retrieved (14/03/2017) from http://www.creative-assembly.com/

  • Denscombe M. (2014). The Good Research Guide. Fifth Edition. Glasgow: Bell and Bain Ltd.

  • Devers K. J. & Frankel R. M. (2000). Study design in qualitative research--2: Sampling and data collection strategies. Education for health 13(2) 263.

  • Dictionary.com (2017). video game. Retrieved (11/042017) from: http://www.dictionary.com/browse/video-game

  • Floyd D. & Portnow J. (2014). Extra Credits - Historical Games - Why Mechanics Must Be Both Good and Accurate [Video file]. Retrieved (03/03/2017) from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l8yl09GcI48

  • Gee J. P. (2003). What video games have to teach us about learning and literacy. Computers in Entertainment (CIE) 1(1) 20-20.

  • Gymnasium.se (2016). Gymnasium.se - Hitta ditt gymnasium (Find your secondary school). Retrieved (04/05/2016) from: http://www.gymnasium.se/

  • Hermerén G. (2011). God forskningssed. Vetenskapsrådet (Swedish Research Council). Retrieved (04/04/2016) from: https://publikationer.vr.se/produkt/god-forskningssed/

  • Huizenga J. Admiraal W. Akkerman S. & Dam G. T. (2009). Mobile game-based learning in secondary education: engagement motivation and learning in a mobile city game. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning 25(4) 332-344.

  • Huizinga J. (1955) (originally published in 1938). Homo Ludens: A Study of the Play Element in Culture. Beacon Press Boston.

  • Infinity Ward. (2003). Call of Duty [PC game]. Santa Monica California United States: Activision Publishing Inc. Retrieved (14/03/2017) from: https://www.infinityward.com/

  • Juul J. (2010). A casual revolution: Reinventing video games and their players. MIT press.

  • Kapp K. M. (2012). The Gamification of Learning and Instruction: Game-based Methods and Strategies for Training and Education John Wiley & Sons

  • Larsson-Auna E. (2012). Att spela historien. Hur användningen av digitala spel i historieundervisning bidrar till utvecklingen av historiemedvetenhet. (Student thesis). Umeå University Sweden

  • Levin K. A. (2006). Study design III: Cross-sectional studies. Evidence-based dentistry 7(1) 24-25.

  • Malone T. W. (1981). Toward a theory of intrinsically motivating instruction Cognitive science 5(4) 333-369.

  • Malone T. W. & Lepper M. R. (1987). Making learning fun: A taxonomy of intrinsic motivations for learning. Aptitude learning and instruction 3 223-253.

  • Mann C. J. (2003). Observational research methods. Research design II: cohort cross sectional and case-control studies. Emergency medicine journal 20(1) 54-60.

  • Mozelius P. Fagerström A. & Söderquist M. (2016). Motivating factors and intrinsic integration of knowledge in educational games. In Proceedings of The 10th European Conference on Games Based Learning (ECGBL) Paisley United Kingdom Academic Conferences Publishing.

  • Piaget J. (1970). The Principles of Genetic Epistemology Routledge & Kegan Paul Ltd London

  • Portnow J. (2008). The power of tangential learning. Edge Online.

  • Papastergiou M. (2009). Digital game-based learning in high school computer science education: Impact on educational effectiveness and student motivation. Computers & Education 52(1) 1-12.

  • Prensky M. (2001). Digital game-based learning. New York: McGraw Hill.

  • Ryan G. W. & Bernard H. R. (2003). Techniques to identify themes. Field methods 15(1) 85-109.

  • Squire K. (2005). Changing the game: What happens when video games enter the classroom. Innovate: Journal of online education 1(6).

  • Squire K. D. DeVane B. & Durga S. (2008). Designing centers of expertise for academic learning through video games. Theory Into Practice 47(3) 240-251.

  • Swedish Media Council / Statens medieråd (2016). Ungar och medier 2015 (Kids and media 2015). Retrieved (11/04/2017) from: http://statensmedierad.se/publikationer/ungarochmedier/ungarmedier2015.381.html

  • The Guardian (25/04/2017). Holly Nielsen “Call of Duty: WWII could be the most important game of all time for historians” Retrieved (27/04/2017) from: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/apr/25/call-of-duty-wwii-historians-video-games-activision?CMP=share_btn_fb

  • Vygotsky L.S. (1978). Mind in society: The development of higher psychological processes Harvard University Press Cambridge.

  • Zyda M. (2005). From visual simulation to virtual reality to games. Computer 38(9) 25-32.

Journal information
All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 0 0 0
Full Text Views 790 382 27
PDF Downloads 330 191 7