My research study will focus on teacher tools and strategies to monitor and moderate students in MinecraftEdu.
The research literature I have been studying use several methods to collect data:
- Learner Logs – these are compilations of student behavior in the game. These could include system data about each individual user (length of time played, time spent working alone compared to working with others, level of involvement in the game chat). The learning logs could also include work products in the game created by the student or in collaboration with other students, and communication with the teacher. For my purposes, this would be something that a teacher could use to collect data for assessment. They wouldn’t necessarily need the technical data from the actual game system but they could compile a teacher’s log for each student in much the same way that a student would create a project portfolio. In the Givercraft/Survivorcraft experience, Wikispace pages will be used to share student screenshots and videos of their work in addition to reflection journals from each session spent in the game. Time spent in the game would be a useful part of assessment; most teachers group count the time that is assigned to the game (five one-hour sessions per week). I would like to also compare classes that are in the game for frequent yet shorter sessions, compared to fewer but longer sessions for other classes. It would be important to know if student and game management strategies for teachers would need to be drastically different depending on how much overall time is spent in the game and how long the experience lasts (number of weeks).
- Observations of student game play – ideally a teacher would be able to do this in the physical classroom as well as virtually within the game. However, since I will not be in the classroom, I will limit my observations to behavior in the game. In the research literature, sometimes individual students are profiled in the studies; I would need to limit my observations to students of one class at at time or compare teams of students since the virtual game is like following kids in a forest (it’s too easy to lose them!). An important form of student interactions within the game is to record or save a copy of the chat history from each day. If I am tracking only one class or several teams of students, this will also be complicated because all users access and communicate with the same chat window; this would mean going through and pulling out the specific texts from the students I am observing. I am still thinking about whether this will be a primary form of data collection for me and how I will use it in my research.
- Pre and post-game surveys – these are used to collect data directly from students around specific learning objectives, perceptions, skill or proficiency benchmarks, etc. The logistics of implementing surveys each day (similar to an exit poll) are difficult since I am not able to be in the classroom. Most likely, this could be collected in the Wikispaces student pages and framed as reflection or debrief questions at the end of each game session.
- Several methods used in the literature research are not feasible for me since I will not physically be in the classroom with the teacher or students and these would require extra time and effort to collect: Teacher and student (whole class, team, or individual) interviews, videotaping the classroom game sessions and any group or team discussions, and collecting data about how students are continuing to learn outside of the classroom or school (information about their related activities and conversations after the school day). These could include whether students look up more content information online from home or on their own time, if they attempt to learn new strategies and tools for game play that they can use during the next game session, if they practice game play (in Minecraft at home) to improve their skills and abilities in the classroom sessions, if they reread the book or ask others about the storyline or details for recreating buildings, etc. These might be better suited for an exit survey, however I would be worried that the questions themselves would be suggestive and that students would then try to do all of these things.
Clearly, there are many data collection methods that would be easily be applied or adapted to my research. Right now, I’m working on my framework and research questions and then I will adapt the methods to suit them. As of right now, I know that the Givercraft experience that I will be collecting data from, will run for three weeks. I also need to consider what data I will collect and if I need to use that entire time; another option is to select phases of the project to measure or collect data. It is still overwhelming to consider, but I am trusting this research process because it is helping me to focus on specific parts that lead to the next step. I will be posting my framework and research questions later this weekend and hopefully get some feedback from my peers.