Using Video Games to Develop Graduate Attributes: a Pilot Study

Barr, M. (2016) Using Video Games to Develop Graduate Attributes: a Pilot Study. In: 10th European Conference on Games Based Learning, University of the West of Scotland, Paisley, UK, 6-7 Oct 2016, pp. 41-49. ISBN 9781911218098

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It may be argued that most higher education courses are not explicitly designed to teach or develop desirable soft skills such as critical thinking, communication, resourcefulness or adaptability. While such skills – often referred to as ‘graduate attributes’ – are assumed to be developed as a by-product of a university education, there is little empirical evidence to support this assumption. Furthermore, traditional didactic teaching methods do not typically require students to exhibit such skills, while prevalent assessment methods such as examinations are ill-suited to measure them. Many commercial video games, on the other hand, require players to exercise a range of very similar skills and competencies in order to progress. The pilot project described here sought to explore the use of video games to develop graduate attributes and to identify suitable instruments for measuring such elusive conceptions. A small group of undergraduate students were recruited and asked to play selected video games for two hours per week over an eight week period. A range of psychometric tests were administered at the beginning and the end of the experiment period in order to gather empirical data relating to the participants’ graduate attributes. Mean differences in the pre- and post-intervention scores associated with each measure were obtained and 95% confidence intervals calculated to provide an indication of whether results obtained might be indicative of a wider population. Participants were also asked to discuss their experience as a group following each session and to blog about it if they were so inclined. Despite the small scale of the pilot, the results were sufficiently encouraging to warrant a larger study, which is now underway. The challenges involved in obtaining empirical data on the effectiveness of a game-based intervention such as this are addressed and implications for the subsequent study are discussed.

Item Type:Conference Proceedings
Keywords:higher education, graduate attributes, undergraduate, game-based learning, video games
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Barr, Dr Matthew
Authors: Barr, M.
Subjects:L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB2300 Higher Education
College/School:College of Arts > School of Humanities > Information Studies
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2016 Academic Bookshop
Publisher Policy:Reproduced with the permission of the publisher.
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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
690281Games for CommunicationMatthew BarrRCUK Digital Economy (RCUKDIGTL)UNSPECIFIEDHU - ARTS AND MEDIA INFORMATICS (HATII)