Applying game based learning at the South African Military Academy: an experimental study

Dreyer, Adriaan Marthinus Francois (2017-03)

Thesis (MPhil)--Stellenbosch University, 2017.


ENGLISH SUMMARY : The contemporary military environment is characterised by new technologies, advances in computer usage, and a younger generation of students who have the expectation that the use of technology within education is going to increase over the next few years (McClarty, et al., 2012, p. 2). The educational environment is becoming more reliant on technology to help facilitate teaching. Within higher education there are theoretical reports suggesting that games within education can be a feasible solution for supplementing traditional teaching practices in a positive manner, making the learning more interactive and enjoyable for students (Gee, 2011; Annetta, 2008; Borokhovski, Bernard, Tamim, Schmid, & Sokolovskaya, 2016). Although there is much theoretical support for the use of games within education, there is mixed empirical support for the successful use of thereof. The aim of this study is to investigate whether Game-Based Learning (GBL) will result in higher learning gains when compared to traditional teaching methods; in particular, when used as a method to teach JavaScript to undergraduate Computer Information Systems (CIS) students at the Military Academy (MA) of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF). The study also investigated if GBL can be feasible to use as a teaching method at the MA. A research experiment was conducted to investigate the differences in learning gains between the two afore-mentioned teaching approaches. The difference in learning gain scores were statistically investigated and the necessary conclusions were drawn. From the statistical analysis conducted it should be clear if GBL can be used as a teaching method at the MA. This can only be concluded if the learning gains from GBL are at least as good as the learning gains from the traditional teaching methods. A sample of 47 (n=47) residential students was used. These students are enrolled in CIS as part of their B. Mil studies at the Faculty of Military Science of Stellenbosch University. Participants were selected from the SA Navy, SA Army, and SA Air Force. Participants were tested on their JavaScript knowledge using a pre- and post-test designed experiment. Significance testing was done to determine the differences between the variables. Results reveal no significant difference between the learning gains of the GBL and traditional teaching methods groups. Significant difference in knowledge before and after the study was revealed in both the GBL and traditional teaching groups, indicating both teaching methods are feasible to use as teaching methods at the MA.

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