Preferences of Grade R-12 learners in South Africa for Digital Game-based Learning
Evidence from the literature suggests that Game-based Learning (GBL) can help students learn better. A gamified environment can provide a blend of serious learning and fun for students. Some researchers have observed that GBL could stimulate valuable educational outcomes and positively impact a child's life. However, evidence shows that students in poor communities in South Africa are performing poorly academically due to poor student engagement and lack of motivation. Although GBL platforms are being used widely in some developed countries, they have not been widely adopted in South African schools. This paper provides insight on the preferences of learners in South African schools with respect to GBL. We conducted a survey involving participants from four South African Schools (2 Primary schools and 2 Secondary schools) to determine the type and mode of GBL that Grade R-12 learners prefer. A total of 193 learners participated in the survey. The study found the learners' preferential order of type of games are puzzles, video games, simulation games, word games, and card games. The aspects of visual aesthetics, musical scores, and incentive appeal to most learners. At the same time, there is also a preference for games that involves a challenge, enable competition with peers, and promotes curiosity. Based on our findings, we argue that multiplayer game platforms that have rich social interaction features would suit learners in South African schools, while single-player game platforms that can stimulate logical thinking and reasoning will also be helpful to aid learners in identified difficult subjects like Mathematics, Mathematical Literacy, Pure Science, accounting, and Geography. The study provides a solid foundation for understanding the requirements for developing GBL solutions to support education in South Africa. Furthermore, the study's findings could guide government policy on the adoption of GBL and software developers in making design choices during the development of GBL platforms.