Research to Practice: Games and Simulations

Here is some information I compiled for my presentation at CSTD based on some studies. And the slides I used for my presentation.

1. An experience as an avatar can change a person’s real life perceptions. In a study conducted by Yee and Bailenson (2007), it was found that negative stereotyping of the elderly was significantly reduced when participants were placed in avatars of old people compared with those participants placed in avatars of young people

Reference: Yee, N., & Bailenson, J.N. (2006). Walk a mile in digital shoes: The impact of embodied perspective-taking on the reduction of negative stereotyping in immersive virtual environments. Proceedings of PRESENCE 2006: The 9th Annual International Workshop on Presence. August 24- 26, Cleveland, Ohio, USA. See more research at the Stanford Virtual Human Interaction Lab.

2. It is better to have one “expert” avatar and another “motivational” avatar in a learning environment rather than having one combined “mentor” avatar. Baylor and Kim (2005) report that in multiple studies with avatars of different gender and race, evidence indicates that students learned significantly more and had significantly greater motivation when working with one motivator and a different expert avatar as compared to working with the just the one mentor avatar. This can be explained by the fact that it is easier for students to figuratively ‘compartmentalize’ the information from the avatar when it was delivered by two distinct sources.

Reference: Baylor, A. L. & Kim, Y. (2005). Simulating instructional roles through pedagogical agents. International Journal of Artificial Intelligence in Education, 15(1), 95-115. See Promoting motivation with virtual agents and avatars: role of visual presence and appearance.

3. Watching an avatar that looks like you performing an activity influences you to perform a similar or same activity in the future. Creating avatars and having a learner perform a task as an avatar can influence a person’s actual behavior outside of being an avatar. In one study, users watched an avatar that looked like them exercising and losing weight in a virtual environment, the result was that those that watched the avatar of themselves subsequently exercised more and ate healthier in the real world as compared to a control group. This as reported by Fox and Bailenson (2009). In similar study conducted by Yee, Bailenson & Ducheneaut, (2009), had three control group. One where participants were exposed to an avatar representing themselves running on a treadmill, the second with avatar running that did not represent the participant and the third group with avatar representing themselves loitering. Within 24 hours, after the experiment, participants who were exposed to the avatar running that represented themselves exercised significantly more than those in the other conditions. A study by Ersner-Hershfield et al. (2008) found that when college-aged students observed their avatar ageing in a virtual mirror, they formed a psychological connection to their “future self” and decided to invest more money in a retirement account as opposed to a control group.

Reference: Fox, J. & Bailenson, J. N. (2009). Virtual self-modeling: the effects of vicarious reinforcement and identification on exercise behaviors. Media Psychology. 12, 1–25. Ersner-Hershfield, H., Bailenson, J. & Carstensen, L. L. (2008). A vivid future self: immersive virtual reality enhances retirement saving. Chicago, IL: Association for Psychological Science. Yee, N., Bailenson, J.N., & Ducheneaut, N. (2009). The Proteus Effect: Implications of transformed digital self-representation on online and offline behavior. Communication Research, 36 (2), 285-312.

4. Trainees’ gain higher confidence in applying learning from a training session to their job when the training is simulation game based. The research evidence suggests the use of simulations to enhance the confidence trainees have in their ability to apply the skills learned in the training to their job. In a meta-analysis of more than 60 studies with 6,476 participants, it was found that trainees receiving instruction via a simulation game had 20% higher confidence they had learned the information taught in training and could perform the training-related tasks (self-efficacy) than trainees in a comparison group of more traditional methods.

Reference: Sitzmann, T. (in press) A meta-analytic examination of the instructional effectiveness of computer-based simulation games. Personnel Psychology and Sitzman, T. & Ely, K. (2010) A meta-analytic examination of the effectiveness of computer-based simulation games. .

5.Simulations embedded in a program of instruction are better tools for learning than stand alone simulations. Trainees learn more from simulations games that are embedded in a program of instruction than when simulation games are the sole instructional method. When simulation games were used as a supplement to other instructional methods, the simulation game group had higher knowledge levels than the comparison group. However, when simulation games were used as standalone instruction, trainees in a comparison group learned more than trainees in the simulation game group.

Reference: Sitzmann, T. (in press) A meta-analytic examination of the instructional effectiveness of computer-based simulation games. Personnel Psychology and Sitzman, T. & Ely, K. (2010) A meta-analytic examination of the effectiveness of computer-based simulation games.

6.Simulation games don’t have to be entertaining to be educational. In a meta-analysis of studies, the research indicated that trainees learned the same amount of information in simulation games whether the games were ranked high in entertainment value or low in entertainment value. There does not appear to be a correlation between the entertainment value of a simulation game and its educational merit. (5 stars)

Reference: Sitzmann, T. (in press) A meta-analytic examination of the instructional effectiveness of computer-based simulation games. Personnel Psychology and Sitzman, T. & Ely, K. (2010) A meta-analytic examination of the effectiveness of computer-based simulation games.

7. Trainees learn more from simulations games that actively engage trainees in learning rather than passively conveying the instructional material. When the majority of the instruction in a simulation game was passive, the comparison group learned more than the simulation game group. However, when the majority of the instruction in the simulation game was active, the simulation game group learned more than the comparison group. These findings suggest that simulation games are more effective when they actively engage trainees in learning the course material.

Reference: Sitzmann, T. (in press) A meta-analytic examination of the instructional effectiveness of computer-based simulation games. Personnel Psychology and Sitzman, T. & Ely, K. (2010) A meta-analytic examination of the effectiveness of computer-based simulation games.

8.Trainees participating in simulation game learning experiences have higher declarative knowledge, procedural knowledge and retention of training material than those trainees participating in more traditional learning experiences. Post-training declarative knowledge, post-training procedural knowledge and retention of the training material is higher for trainees participating in a simulation game experience than the comparison groups. In examining the effectiveness of computer-based simulation games related to comparison groups, it was found that declarative knowledge was 11% higher for trainees taught with simulation games than a comparison group; procedural knowledge was 14% higher and retention was 9% higher.

Reference: Sitzmann, T. (in press) A meta-analytic examination of the instructional effectiveness of computer-based simulation games. Personnel Psychology and Sitzman, T. & Ely, K. (2010) A meta-analytic examination of the effectiveness of computer-based simulation games.

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