Missions with Monty: A Game-Based Learning Environment to Promote Comprehension Monitoring and Science Achievement
Keywords:GBLE, STEM learning, Scientific literacy, metacognition, reading comprehension
While game-based learning environments (GBLE) are an increasingly popular means to engage learners, there remains limited research on the benefits of GBLEs for students’ learning and metacognitive skills in classroom contexts. Missions with Monty is a GBLE developed to engage students as they learn comprehension strategies to support their scientific literacy with targeted Next Generation Science Standards content. The current missions focus on ecosystems, earth and human activity, molecules, and organisms. Students navigate through the game to solve challenges that require the application and transfer of science knowledge. One primary and unique focus of Missions with Monty is to benefit students’ metacognition through comprehension monitoring. Comprehension monitoring is an essential strategy to support literacy and is measured through students’ accuracy in rating their performance on comprehension items. In the game, students are explicitly taught and subsequently practice essential comprehension monitoring strategies. Additional key educational outcomes for students playing Missions with Monty include reading achievement, science knowledge, and transfer of science learning.
In this study we examined 10 and 11 year old students’ outcomes as they either played the game (n = 144) or learned the content via a computer-based learning environment (CBLE) without game elements in a comparison condition (n = 80) within classrooms of diverse learners in the United States. Significant gains for science learning were found across conditions, (t(223) = 13.67, p <.001). The primary research question of interest focused on whether students who played Missions with Monty were better able to monitor their understanding of science text after playing the game and therefore we compared monitoring, as measured by bias and accuracy, before and after the game play. Effective metacognition is demonstrated by low bias and high accuracy. Findings revealed that both conditions demonstrated improved bias (t(223) = 4.44, p < .001) and accuracy (t(223) = 11.81, p < .001). Thus, students were better able to monitor their science learning through the game, an essential skill for scientific literacy. Future research should continue to examine the benefits of GBLEs versus CBLEs in terms of benefits for motivation and learning.