Would You Like Some Data With That Learning Game?

UPDATE, JULY 5 2015:

I went looking again for the research paper when I found that the pre-publication draft was no longer available through BrainQuake. A new version of the results is now downloadable through their “Backed by Science” page; after taking a look at it, I must disappointedly confess that I find it to be deliberately misleading regarding the kinds of conclusions that can be drawn from the study. It isn’t simply that language such as “dramatic math learning results that no one had believed were possible” are outlandish overstatements. It is hand-waving over the definition of “comparison group,” and corresponding outright dishonesty about the study’s rigor.

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A Round of Feedback from Student Players

I devoted part of the last session of French current events this semester to collecting feedback about the students’ experience playing games in class. This week, I was able to take a look at the results.

While the survey proved to be more of a lesson, for me, on how not to write surveys, I did glean some interesting comments and overall impressions of what students experienced. Here is a selection of student comments, with my thoughts.

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Sans-Papiers, the Immigration Game

Sans-Papiers is a role-playing game about being an undocumented immigrant in France. French president François Hollande officially inaugurated the Musée de l’histoire de l’immigration last December, and there’s been a mix of stories about immigrants in the French news lately: in March, a young undocumented Albanian man won the prestigious “best apprentice in France” medal; France is taking some serious criticism for its treatment of Roma people; and of course, the far-right nationalist party known as the National Front has gained a surprising, or alarming, amount of political ground over the past year. There have also been a staggering number of deaths at sea of immigrant hopefuls trying to cross the Mediterranean in small, fragile crafts.

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Left: “With this pair, too, I’m still seeing a lot of Blacks and Arabs.” Right: “We may need to operate.”

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