Dissertation

 

MAKING WAVES, MIXING COLORS, AND USING MIRRORS:

THE SELF-REGULATED LEARNING SUPPORT FEATURES AND PROCEDURAL RHETORIC OF THREE WHOLE-BODY EDUCATIONAL GAMES

ABSTRACT

This dissertation investigates the question, “How can the procedural rhetoric of three whole-body educational games improve the understanding of self-regulated learning with digital technology?”  It explores three whole-body educational games (WBEGs) using a quantitative study, a case study, and analyses of their procedural rhetoric to better understand the roles these types of games can have in teaching digital literacy and self-regulated learning (SRL) skills.  The three WBEGs, Waves, Color Mixer, and Light and Mirrors, are each intended to teach science concepts to players.  These games are similarly structured in that they all invite players to immerse themselves in the game by standing on the “screen” (the games project images on the floor).  The WBEGs differ from traditional console video games because they receive input from players via motion-sensing technology, requiring players to make large movements with their bodies to influence elements within the game.  This study explains SRL as a complex combination of internal (mental) behavior, external (observable) behavior, and interpersonal (social) behavior, identifying within three WBEGs the presence of elements supporting the SRL behaviors of goal setting, strategy planning, collaboration, progress monitoring, feedback, and reflection.  These findings inform the understanding of SRL by revealing that each game includes a different combination of SRL-supporting elements that encourage the use of SRL skills in different ways.  SRL scaffolding features are those elements within a WBEG that guide players to use certain SRL strategies, helping and supporting their efforts much like construction scaffolding supports a building as it is being erected.  This dissertation also utilizes analyses of procedural rhetoric to investigate the techniques reinforced by the underlying structure of these three WBEGs in an effort to further the understanding of digital literacy in education and sociocultural contexts.  All three WBEGs appear to emphasize player agency and collaboration.  Waves and Light and Mirrors encourage player strategy, while Color Mixer rewards speed and rote knowledge.  These reinforced techniques perpetuate the underlying cultural values of accuracy, collaboration, problem-solving, autonomy, and scaffolding.  This study discusses these values in the contexts of education and society.

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