A board game that requires students to engage in a collaborative setting and develop their math skills as applied to chemistry problems.
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The main challenge I faced with creating this game was deciding which program to use. My drafts migrated between Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, Photoshop, and Paint. For my final draft of my prototype I discovered that it was much easier to develop using tactile methods. I used pieces of construction paper and my living room floor to create the game template. After I was satisfied with the layout I took a photo of what I had created and used the phone application, Sketch Guru, before uploading the photo to PowerPoint.
After creating the initial layout for the game I was able to develop the game rules and guidelines. A few considerations included:
When developing this game my goal was not for the students who are the most academically gifted to win every time. My focus was on encouraging and promoting learning of the topic.
After developing the game rules, I made the playing cards. These cards were separated into three categories based on the level of difficulty. I created approximately fifty cards for each category with the explanation of the answers included on the backside.
There were several characteristics that I wanted to incorporate into my game in order to maximize its effectiveness in the classroom.
The results of a study conducted by Ramani, Siegler, & Hitti (2012) on the integration of board games used to teach mathematic concepts revealed that the game was used effectively when students played in small groups and received frequent and helpful feedback throughout the duration of the game.
In a study conducted by Trinter, Brighton, & Moon (2015), emphasis was placed on creating games that can be effective learning tools for all students in the classroom regardless of academic ability. This approach of differentiating games allows students with different proficiencies, interests, and reading levels to become properly challenged and engaged in the activity (Gulacar, Eilks, & Bowman).
Based on this educational research I knew that my game must have an element of chance to increase engagement and excitement, but students must have the opportunity to do well in the game regardless of their academic ability. The purpose of this game is to scaffold my students learning regardless of their current proficiency in completing stoichiometry problems.
After creating several prototypes I decided to use an existing board game as a starting point and adjust it according to the specific needs of my classroom.
Gulacar, O., Eilks, I., & Bowman, C. (2014). Differences in general cognitive abilities and domain-specific skills of higher- and lower-achieving students in stoichiometry. Journal of Chemical Education, 91 (7) 961-969. DOI: 10.1021/ed400894b
Trinter, C., Brighton, C. & Moon, T. (2015). Differentiated educational games: discarding the one size fits all approach to educational game play. Gifted Child Today, 38 (2), 88-94.
There are several components that make games effective learning tools. One primary tenant of cognitive growth championed by the great psychologist, Vygotsky, is collaboration. He argued that collaboration allows for discussion and reflection which in turn promotes metacognition and self-regulation. Games in the classroom allow for excellent opportunities for collaboration not only among students, but between the students and their instructors as well.
Teachers can help enable their students to successfully complete difficult tasks through scaffolding. For example, a teacher can provides selective help to enable students to do activities they could not do on their own. Then, as students become more competent, the teacher can gradually reduce and eventually withdraw the support. Vygotsky supported the use of scaffolding as well as other external processes such as peer tutoring and student collaborations. He argued that the use of external aids can greatly influence the internalization of concepts that are critical in cognitive development.
Scaffolding has demonstrated definite benefits for learners. It is also an inherent characteristic of games. The players are provided with the resources and instructions that are necessary to successfully achieve the final goal of the game, yet the specific instruction is student-led. Therefore, in order to successfully scaffold students’ cognitive development, classroom games should provide students with enough guidance and structure to complete activities that they would not have been able to accomplish without assistance.
Self-Efficacy and Confidence
As students are able to complete activities that had previously been beyond their academic and cognitive abilities, they may experience an increase in their confidence and self-efficacy. Self-efficacy can be defined as one’s judgment of their ability to perform a task within a specific domain. Research focusing on student self-efficacy has shown the importance of learners’ goals, beliefs, and strategies for learning. In addition, students with high self-efficacy are more likely to seek help, resist negative feedback, and are able to overcome obstacles to improve their performance.
Using Games in the ClassroomGames within an educational setting are able to blend many of the positive attributes discussed above into a productive tool for student learning. They are fundamentally engaging and collaborative, and provide ample opportunities for scaffolding, all within an environment that encourages student’s self-efficacy through a low-stakes, playful environment.
Bandura, A. (1997). Self-efficacy: The exercise of control. New York, NY: Freeman.
Bruning, R., Schraw, G., & Norby, M. (2011). Cognitive Psychology and Instruction. Boston: Pearson.
As a high school chemistry teacher I have been presented with the dilemma of how I can successfully introduce my students to new, difficult material when they have limited prior knowledge associated with certain chemistry topics. For this project, I will focus specifically on the concept of stoichiometry.
When teaching stoichiometry, students often become overwhelmed with the multiple steps involved in completing these problems. In addition, they struggle with conceptualizing the process as a whole, moving from the individual principles of the conservation of mass, to an appreciation of how those principles apply to chemical equations. Often these students become discouraged, and subsequently fall behind as these concepts are utilized and revisited throughout the chemistry curriculum.
It has been my experience that the difficulties inherent in stoichiometry for high school students derive most fundamentally from a lack of practice with applied mathematics. In other words, when learning about the concept of stoichiometry, mathematics is the limiting reagent.
This dilemma demands a brief consideration of the factors of why and how students learn in an effort to create an effective method by which to teach stoichiometry.
The first question that must be considered is: Why do people learn? Or, more generally stated, why do people choose to do what they do? The answer to this question can be found in the individual’s source of motivation for their actions. John Dewey (1938) stated that effective teaching must not only convey knowledge that makes further cognitive growth possible, but it must also be enjoyable.
Csikszentmihalyi, M. (2014). Applications of Flow in Human Development and Education. Claremont: Springer.
Dewey, J. (1938). Experience and Education. New York: Macmillan