In their 2012 journal article,entitled Enhancing 5th graders’ science content knowledge and self-efficacy through game-based learning the authors primarily examine whether game based learning both on an individual level and in collaborative settings has any tangible impact on learning in the STEM domain for middle school students.
Meluso et al, do a good job presenting the research problems, a review of the literature, their methods, analysis and recommendations. The experiments are fairly well designed with a reasonable sized population running for 4 days with both pretest and post test evaluations providing important normative information to the academy. Unfortunately, the authors conclude, “As members of the 2006 National Summit on Educational Games suggested, game-based learning research needs to continue to focus on what works with whom and in which context. When the research community
adequately addresses this concern, games will become more compatible with school learning contexts and potentially have a greater impact on the development of students’ 21st century skills.” Profession Dede echoes the point in his blog entitled, “Developing a Research Agenda for Educational Games and Simulations”,evaluation studies are a poor place to stop in research on an innovation and should be only a small part of a research agenda, not the preponderance of work, as they typically do not contribute much to theory and do not provide nuanced understandings of what works, when, for whom, and under what conditions.”
The research is extremely important to DET scholars in particular and the US school system generally because as the authors indicated in the introduction to their research, the US has been producing few numbers of STEM graduates compared to other nations around the world for many decades and if game based learning can boost self-efficacy in this area then perhaps some support can be lent to the efforts being made to reverse this trend. DET scholars above all others will may be charged with doing the research to measure whether the efforts and interventions are successful or not and if not they will be tasked with figuring out the necessary adjustments and modifications which may be required.