Digital games-based learning for children with dyslexia: A social constructivist perspective on engagement and learning during group game-play

Highlights

Group game play of drill and practice games is driven by social engagement.
Social engagement is expressed through ‘game talk’.
‘Game talk’ can strengthen the self-esteem of children with dyslexia.
‘Game talk’ can reveal learning processes offering intervention opportunities.
A sense of ownership of personalised games can inhibit collaboration.

Abstract

Taking a process-orientated, social constructivist lens, we examine the case of a digital game called Words Matter. The game was designed for children with dyslexia and was informed by principles from casual games and evidence-based practice from special education. Focusing on the game play of two groups of children, we employ a systematic thematic analytic approach on videos of children’s verbal and non-verbal interaction triangulated with their game logs, concentrating on the nature of student-student as well as student-tutor social interactions. Our findings show that children spontaneously engage in ‘game talk’ regarding game performance, content, actions and experiences. While this game talk facilitates a strong sense of social engagement and playfulness, it also caters to a variety of new opportunities for learning by sparking tutor and student-initiated interventions. Alongside its social theoretical lens on digital games-based learning, the paper analyses game-based social interactions in tandem with game design decisions enabling additional implications to be drawn for pedagogical practice and game design.

Keywords

Social interaction
Game design
Digital games-based learning
Dyslexia
engagement
Vasalou A, Khaled R, Holmes W, et al. Digital games-based learning for children with dyslexia: A social constructivist perspective on engagement and learning during group game-play[J]. Computers & Education, 2017, 114.