Games In The School Curriculum Education Essay

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Vocabulary acquisition remains a very important aspect of second language teaching. Vocabulary is so important that it cuts across other aspects of language teaching namely: writing, listening, reading and speaking. It is also a tool for success in terms of academic pursuits. (Huyen and Khuat, 2003) However, the teaching of vocabulary has been a problem that researchers have tried various ways to see that its teaching and learning becomes more fruitful to the second language learner, because a boring classroom has been the reason for most second language learners unfavorable attitude towards learning English Language. (Uberman, 1998)

In Vietnam, the introduction of the communicative language teaching (CLT) is an innovation in second Language teaching. (Huyen and Khuat, 2003) explain that this approach makes learning more learner centered whereby goals are achieved. To this effect, many researchers have discussed that games is `a tool of wonders': it has been researched, that it accounts for the success of vocabulary acquisition and recollection in language classroom. In other disciplines, it is a motivating tool, while some countries have included it in the curriculum. (Demirbilek and Tamer, 2011, Yip and Kwan, 2006, (Razak, Connolly and Hainey, 2012, Huyen and Khuat, 2003)

Using eight articles, this research will investigate which games are effective for vocabulary acquisition for 4th grade students.

Literature Reviews


Researchers have researched into the use of games in the school curriculum. In Scotland, the intension is to incorporate in the curriculum, the games-based learning: called Curriculum for Excellence (CFE), which has been operational in primary schools. (Razak, Connolly and Hainey, 2012) investigated the use of computer for learning in primary schools and to measure how it matches this new innovation (CFE).

Findings from the respondents who are mainly teachers (78%) (Razak,et al 2012) showed that they are motivated to use DGBL because: the students love it and can make some games. However, for most, DGBL is not a convenient teaching device. In terms of skills acquisition, using DGBL provide this for problem solving and recall. It was also evident that students play computer games because of challenge, curiosity, pleasure and cooperation.

As technology advances, the Educational sector evolves strategies that would use these innovations. Using the Mobile Serious Game, (MSG) Sanchez and Olivares assess its impact on the ``problem solving and collaborative skills on some 8th grade Chilean students" (Sanchez and Olivares, 2011)

The idea is to harness mobile and video games technology, into education, and to reduce students learning difficulties in relation to the sciences. Based on science concept, the game is divided into four environments and each stuck with species of animals. A game of 50 players, each, has to manipulate many functions so that they don't lose their animals to any predators.

Findings showed that the students found the field trips and excursions fun and had develop better attitude towards science however, their problem solving and collaborative skills did not improve. (Sanchez and Olivares, 2011)

Teachers have also examined primary school students' geography class in Ankra, Turkey using a 3D computer game to examine the motivation and achievement level of the learners (Tuzan, Yilmaz-Soylu, Karakus, Inal and Kizilkaya, 2009)

The game is a replica of a globe, using a mixed method approach; participants were from kindergarten to 8th grade, of average English proficiency level and some computer literacy. Before the game, students were told what it entails. The game requires students to navigate the geographical features, to find and provide information for any lost person to get his base.

Findings showed that the learners were motivated using computer games over the traditional method and the nature of the motivation was intrinsic. The student's collaborative skills also improved. (Tuzan, Yilmaz-soylu, Karakus, Inal, and Kizilkay, 2009)

The use of games in learning has not been restricted to languages only, but from Mathematics teachers perspectives from Isparta- Turkey, (Demirbilek and Tamer, 2010) using computer games in classroom for educational purposes showed that class control will be a problem because students equate games with play.

Secondly, there are no hardware and software developed in the local language for this purpose. Others are infrastructures, large class size, computers, kand the manpower for the programme as most of the teachers and students are not computer literate.

Others observed that the pressure of workload and the desire to finish what is stipulated in the curriculum makes it difficult to use games rather it should be an after school activity. Beside these constraints, respondents' personal opinion revealed that computers are viable tools that can arouse attention, interest and motivate.

Similarly, in a quest to determine suitable ways for presenting vocabulary and to make learning more effective, (Yip & Kwan, 2006) investigated the use of online games as an alternative tool to learning vocabulary. The populations were first year Hong Kong University Students of Science and Technology Department.

The population consists of experimental and control groups. All groups were homogeneous and were taught by each of the three teachers involved in the research. They had a pre-test, accompanied by a learning session then a post-test, preceded by a survey and an interview.

The outcome revealed that the students supported learning vocabulary using online games and the 'professional word web' has effective tools for that. The students preferred the online games more to the regular face to face interaction with teachers. The positive re-enforcement after each game increased their confidence in learning.

From a personal experience and as an insider, (Uberman, 1999) expressed the rewarding nature of games in the presentation and revision of vocabulary after having tried other strategies with her students. She continued that she noticed their enthusiasm and joy, resulting from a satisfaction of been equipped with a tool that helps them learn vocabulary but also one that helps them recall vocabulary for communicative purpose.

Furthermore, that even though much time was spent on using games for vocabulary; this showed the interest, motivation and willingness of the children to learn. She likened games to a stimulus which triggers learning as such she concluded that games: based on her research, is the ``best methods for vocabulary presentation and revision" (Uberman, 1999).

(Tuan, 2012) examines the effects of games for vocabulary recollection on a group of seven year old pupils in a Thai school in Vietnam. The research population was 121 students, randomly sampled and labeled as group A (experimental group) and group B (the control group) with the same proficiency level. While the control group was taught vocabulary exercises from the text books, the experimental group was taught vocabulary games. After, both groups had a pre-test and a double post-test.

The result revealed that the experimental group outperformed the control group given that both groups had the same level of vocabulary knowledge represented statistically as (x = 8.02 and 5.81) post test 1, (3.92 and 3.86) pre test. The success was linked to this treatment.

Tuan observed that exercise in work book may aid vocabulary recollection given the marginal performance from the results yet incorporating; games will motivate learners and boost their performance.

In a University for foreign studies in Haiphong, (Huyen and Khuat 2003) investigated the role of games in a language classroom. Based on action researched, they researched on the usefulness of games in vocabulary teaching and learning.

Their findings revealed that the students enjoyed the fun and relaxed environment in which they learned and this makes recall easily. They added that the competitive nature of games made the students to collaborate, be imaginative and creative so as to outsmart their opponents. Furthermore, games motivates and made them more interested in the lesson. Generally it was entirely a new concept which spurs them to learn and majority of the students were pleased with learning vocabulary through game even with reserved learners. It was also discovered that the use of L1 cannot be avoided in most instances.

Strengths and Weaknesses

A game-based learning curriculum is an innovation in the educational sector. Razak et al's involvement of professionals: teachers as the source of data, because they are implementers. (Razak et al, 2012). This research drew inspiration from the works of Robertson and Miller, (as cited in Razak et al) who had researched on game play learning, in Scotland. Participation was voluntary and participants consented.

This finding is useful in the educational sector; by text books writers, curriculum developers and teachers.

As a quantitative research, surveys alone were not enough as data tool. Given the population of teachers in Scotland, 62 for sample is inadequate and gender imbalanced. There is no research question, Interpretation is difficult because of technical terms, it is expensive, and implementation will be difficult.

The concept of Mobile Serious Games innovation makes learning accessed everywhere. This research is inspired by researchers as Bokyeong, Hyungsung, and YoungKyun, 2009 (as cited in Sanzchez and Olivares, 2011) whose research had shown that the (MSG) motivates, increase learners commitment and also forges collaboration and problem solving skills.

The sample was large (300), the research methodology was quantitative and the tool- survey was not adequate to collect data. Their findings would be useful for the gaming industry, parents and most educational parastatals.

The research design is complicated, no hypothesis, research question, time consuming, no explanation to concepts as MANOVA, two-way ANOVA (Sanzchez and Olivares, 2011), the choice of the sample is not ideal, it is expensive, and difficult to try in developing countries considering telecommunications network problems. The duration is too short.

The use of computer games to motivate learners, and resulting in achievement is a good strategy for learning. (Tuzan et al, 2009) ICT tools as the motivating stimuli results in making learning real. (Tuzan et al 2009) Their work lends credence to the works of Adams's commercial-off-the-shelf and Virou, Katsionis and Manos's design of a VR-ENGAGE computer game for teaching geography to primary pupils. All (as cited in Tuzan, et al 2009). The participants' consents were sought. Both quantitative and qualitative research tools are used for data collection.

Their immersion aspects help to enhance learning and would be good for advance students of geography rather than 8th graders. The research process and data interpretations are complicated, with unexplained abbreviations as NATO. It is expensive, and not many schools may undertake in. The whole idea shows no clear distinction between the home and school.

(Demirbilek and Tamer it is good that Teachers who are implementers are a primary source of data This new dimension in the teaching of mathematics will benefi textbook writers, curriculum developers, Ministries and Parastatals of Education. The research methodology qualitative and data collection tools were interviews using semi- structured and open-ended questions. All participants consented and no names are mentioned. The terminologies and the research procedures are easy to follow and interpret.

However, working with a sample of only thirteen teachers in a country is inadequate; as reliability and validity will be questioned. The role of teachers is threatened when computers replace them.

Yip and Kwan's concept of teaching and learning vocabulary using online games lends credence to researchers of the 80's and 90's, whose discoveries are relevant. Channell and Taylor respectively. (as cited in Yip and Kwan, 2006). The concept of learning vocabulary using online games is useful for teachers, learners and other stake holders in the field. It is interesting that the games designed for the purpose of teaching vocabulary can also be extended to other aspects of language learning.

The research tools - survey, questionnaires and interviews are relevant for a research of this nature. The research design is straight forward and data interpretation is clear.

The research question is not clearly stated. Given some constraints of internet connectivity problems and constant power outages, this idea is not viable for most developing countries.

Uberman, an educationist, is capable of researching this topic. His finding will alleviate most teachers' struggles with vocabulary teaching: It is useful for textbook writers and all curriculum developers and students. (Uberman, 1998) The research gave advantages of using games and some types of games.

The research procedure and data analysis is simple to follow, however, there is no research question and no sample is used in this research, The Researcher made a claim that this research findings is the best in terms of teaching vocabulary methodology and even when it states that this table shows in the data analysis, no table is indicated no appendix for a reader to see the table.

Tuan researched from an insider's perspective, the findings are relevant for teachers, learners' text book writers, curriculum developers and to the educational sector. (Tuan, 2012) drew inspiration from experts like Ellis, McCallum, and Nation (as is cited in Tuan, 2012) He involved learners in the choice of games so that the class is not teacher dominated.

It has a research question; which he answered based on quantitative data analysis. His sample is large 121 pupils but ages and class are not given. The methodology and methods is not mentioned, however, a pre-test and post-test was done. The research analysis uses statistical terms which are straight forward to study and understand .There is no indication if participants consent is sought.

Huyen and Khuat's investigation is a deviation from the traditional methodof teaching, based on how Vietnamese learners have been taught. (Huyen & Khuat, 2003) From an insider's perspective it will be used by teachers, text book writers, curriculum developers, learners and games industry.

Exploring the current situation in Vietnam, he drew inspiration from Wright, Betteridge and Buckby (as cited in Huyen and Khuat, 2003) He uses a research question; Do games help students learn vocabulary effectively and if so, how?"

He employs Action Research Methodology, alongside tools as oral interviews, observations, journals, post class survey, questionnaire and triangulation by working with specific students who had done a similar research. He got the consent of all the participants. (Huyen & Khuat 2003) The research is interpretable and cost effective.

However, the research did not explain what CLT means, the research population is small and Students use their mother tongue during games.



Motivation was one recurring concept. Razak et al issue of motivation is seen from the point of view of the teachers, who are motivated to use game-based learning because their learners want it. (Huyen and Khuat 2003) observed that because learners are in search of better ways to learn and therefore the use of games is the answer to their search and an option for learning vocabulary. Tazan et al adds that it is a new technique which makes learning fun as a result the learners is motivated.

(Sanchez and Olivares 2011) explained that using the Mobile Serious Games motivate and change the perception of learners concerning certain subjects. This view point is shared by Demirbilek and Tamer as they speak about teachers opinion on using computer games to teach mathematics; "teachers tell that computer games motivates, takes the attention of the students and makes them interested…" it "decreases the negative attitude and behaviors towards math" overcoming fear and breaking the prejudice of math." (Demirbilek and Tamer, 2010) Similarly, (Tuan 2012, Yip and Kuan 2006 and Uberman 1998) examined that learners were all motivated and interested in learning because of relaxing environment and fun that comes along with using games there by making retention possible.


(Huyen & Khuat 2003, Tuan 2012, Yip & Kwan 2006, and Uberman (1998) agreed that the competitive nature of games foster cooperation amongst learners for goals to be achieved. They collaborated to outsmart their opponents so that they can win the games. (RazaK et al 2012) agreed that "challenge, curiosity, pleasure and cooperation" are learners' reasons for playing computer games.


The learners gain autonomy of their learning as they utilize these games to do the task that is assigned. (Tuzan et al, 2009), Huyen and Khuat, 2003), Yip and Kwan, 2006) and Sanchez and Olivares, 2001)).


Classroom control

On the idea of using games pose a challenge for classroom management, all the other researchers seem to be silent about this point except (Demirbilek and Tamer, 2010) raised this observation. They believe that in case of power failure or inadequate computers and learners have to share then class control may be a challenge.

(Demirbilek and Tamer, 2010) observed that using computer games may take over the role of the teachers in the classroom, but Huyen and Khuat mentioned that the presence of teachers in the class makes the organization and play of games much better. Even though they observed that speakers of L2 language take opportunity to use language their L1 during games, on this aspect, other researchers are silent over it but Dash (as cited in Huyen and Khuat 2003) suggests that they should be allowed.

Sanchez and Olivares observed that leadership and problem solving skills are developed when games are used for learning. This is their singular opinion because none of the researchers share in this view.


The various literature reviewed indicated that future research could determine the challenges and obstacles that militate against the use of games based learning curriculum. Other studies could establish the effectiveness of MSG for learning; studies may pinpoint gaming learning activities that would lead to development of higher order skills using the MSG, and the possibilities of tailoring MSG for curriculum purposes rather than outside the classroom.

Another issue is the role of 3DMUVEs on children's educational, social and cultural developments, using mainly participants that are computer illiterate.

Professional and teacher development, software and hard ware development of games are other challenges; therefore, (Yip and Kwan 2006) suggested that games design should be linked with educational theory. Tuan mentioned the need for a variety rather than using just one game, Uberman's opinion is to identify if games work best for vocabulary presentation and revision for all levels of learners.

Huyen and Khuat observed that for games to be effective for vocabulary acquisition, cognizance must be taken of students, proficiency level, culture, timing and the learning topic. Therefore this research will investigate