DEPARTMENT OF CULTURE, LANGUAGES AND MEDIA
Degree Project with Specialisation in English Studies in Education 15 Credits, Second Cycle
Teacher attitudes and practices regarding the use of digital educational games for student motivation in the English
Lärares attityder och praktik för användning av digitala utbildningsspel för elevers motivation i det Engelskspråkiga
Vanessa Mårtensson Ramirez Anncharlotte Fredriksson
Science in Education, 300 credits Examiner: Chrysogonus Siddha Malilang English Studies in Education
Date for Opposition Seminar: 31 May 2021 Supervisor: Shaun Nolan
We want to dedicate this study to Anncharlotte's mother, Gun, who unfortunately passed away in 2017. She believed that being a teacher is one of the greatest occupations in the world.
We would like to acknowledge our supervisor Shaun Nolan, who has supported us through this incredible process, and we are thankful for all the help that Shaun has given us and for the feedback received from other peers.
Finally, we are grateful to all who have participated in this study and made our research possible!
Anncharlotte Fredriksson and Vanessa Mårtensson Ramirez have equally contributed to the following study. We have searched for information together, written our research question together, discussed all parts actively and written them together. The entire paper was written in Google docs to facilitate each other's insight into the different written parts.
The above statement is hereby authenticated by our signatures below.
Anncharlotte Fredriksson Vanessa Mårtensson Ramirez
The purpose of incorporating digital educational games in educational settings is to engage the students desire to learn. The aim of the syllabus for upper secondary school, as expressed by Skolverket (2011) is to support the students for lifelong learning and in order to do so, motivation is needed. However, a problematic gap can be found between “games” and
“formal education” which are two different concepts which cross paths in this study. One path shows the foundation of the Swedish steering documents, and the other displays the
motivational aspects of implementing digital educational games in educational settings.
This qualitative research uses questionnaire surveys with structured questions and semi- structured follow-up interviews via email in order to examine to what degree digital educational games can be implemented in the English 6 classroom. It investigates the
effectiveness of digital educational games in regard to English teaching and teachers’ attitudes and beliefs. The results display different approaches teachers could take when incorporating digital educational games in their classroom but also show significant factors such as teachers' experiences in the digital classroom. The research concludes that digital educational games can be used to encourage student motivation and in the teaching practices of upper secondary school teachers in Malmö. This is therefore an important area that should be further
researched to ensure that teachers receive sufficient guidance and experience for using digital educational games in the English classroom.
Key words: Digital Educational Games, Gamification, GBL, Student motivation, Teacher Attitudes, Second Language Teaching.
Table of contents
1. Introduction ... 1
2. Aim and research questions ... 3
2.1. Research questions ... 3
3. Background ... 4
3.1. Steering documents - English 6 ... 4
3.2. Multimedia learning and the characteristics of digital games ... 5
3.2.1. Visual learning ... 6
3.2.2. Auditory learning... 6
3.3. Game-based learning and gamification ... 7
3.4. Theories on students’ motivation ... 9
3.5. Teacher beliefs and attitudes ... 11
3.5.1. Definitions of beliefs and attitudes ... 11
3.5.2. Research on teachers’ beliefs and attitudes ... 11
4. Method ... 14
4.1 Participants ... 14
4.2. Materials ... 16
4.3. Procedure ... 17
4.4. Ethical considerations ... 17
5. Results ... 18
5.1. Teacher background and experience of using digital educational games ... 18
5.2. Implementation of digital educational games in the English 6 classroom ... 20
5.3. Teacher attitudes’ and student motivation ... 21
6. Discussion ... 23
6.1. Digital educational games in accordance with the Swedish national steering documents ... 23
6.2. Teacher attitudes towards digital educational games ... 25
6. 3. Teachers’ perception on student motivation ... 27
6.4 Recommendations on GBL, Gamification and Classroom Practice ... 29
7. Conclusion ... 32
7.1. Future implications ... 32
8. References ... 34
Appendix 1 – Questionnaire survey questions ... 39
Appendix 2 - Follow-up interview questions via email- Teacher B2 ... 40
Appendix 3- Follow-up interview questions via email- Teacher E2 ... 41 Appendix 4 - Follow-up interview questions via email- Teacher F3 ... 42 Appendix 5 – Consent form ... 43
With the increase and availability of technological devices, the digital classroom has changed throughout time. Today, teachers utilize digital tools in educational settings, such as specific computer programs, apps and other forms of multimodal tools to increase students’
motivation and desire to learn. Some of the students might even use them during their spare time as entertainment or to relax after school, meaning playing games either on their PCs or consoles. When playing a game, the players or in this case the students need to learn the mechanics of the game, and if it is a new game, they need to learn the new mechanics, the structure and understand how the game works. Playing games is in many ways a continual process of learning (Compton, 2019), but how can this be connected to learning a language or a specific subject? All types of games can be implemented in educational settings; however, digital educational games are explicitly designed for learning purposes. They can engage students in learning situations with a focus on a specific subject, reinforce development, understanding and help students to gather knowledge of culture, language and of the surrounding world.
The rapidly developing technologies have provided us with new educational environments and perspectives in learning culture, which plays a significant role in education. The potential of learning in the digitalized environment with digital educational games has frequently been mentioned in previous research, and the results present a growing interest in digital games in educational settings (Gärdensfors, 2013; Miller & Hegelheimer, 2006; Sundqvist &Wikström, Uuskoski, 2011 & Rudis & Postic, 2018).
As stated by Skolverket (2020), digitalization occurs rapidly and the need for more knowledge regarding how digital technology affects students is immense. It is therefore essential to work consciously and thoughtfully with digitalisation in the school environment, and if properly used, digital tools can improve the teaching and the students desire to learn (Skolverket, 2020). When discussing digitalisation in school, the term digital learning resources is often used, which is a term found in research and studies in the field. As simplified by Skolverket (2021), digital learning resources are digital material used in teaching, which can be divided into three main groups; digital content, digital teaching material, and digital tools such as digital educational games.
Clark and Paivio (1991), Mayer (2001) have focused on multimedia learning and Dörnyei and Ottos (1998) and Dörnyei (2001b) on second language learners' motivation. Researchers such as Lindberg (2016), Marklund (2015), Whitton (2014), Gärdenfors (2013) have investigated the benefits, possibilities and opportunities of utilizing digital educational games in an educational environment. However, studies show that there are some problematic aspects concerning digital educational games for educational purposes, such as teachers not being experienced with the use of games and learning situations where games can be incorporated (see for example Sandford, Ulicsak, Facer, & Rudd, 2006).
The wide and flexible use of technology and technological devices is explicitly supported by Skolverket (2011) in the syllabus for the English 6 course in Sweden:
“Students should be given the opportunity to interact in speech and writing, and to produce spoken language and texts [...] using different aids and media” (p. 8).
Moreover, it is especially relevant in regard to the teacher profession with progression and development in new ways of working and including different teaching techniques. It is essential to create conditions for a good teaching environment with digital tools (Riksdagen, 2020).
This study investigates teachers’ attitudes and practices in regards to the utilization of digital educational games for upper secondary school teachers in the English 6 course in Malmö. The English 6 study programme is chosen for this study because in English 5 there is a lot of focus on repetition from lower secondary school and English 7 is not an obligatory course. The research for this study highlights studies on students' learning and upper secondary teachers' attitudes in regard to classroom practices. By investigating teachers’ attitudes towards using digital educational games in their teaching as well as their beliefs regarding students’
motivation, it is possible to identify how and which digital educational games that motivate students in the course of English 6.
2. Aim and research questions
The main focus of this study and the research question is how digital educational games can be effective for English teaching in upper secondary school. This will be done by
investigating the extent of which digital educational games can be used in the classroom and what teachers' attitudes towards using digital educational games are as well as their
perceptions of students' motivation in the game-based classroom. As mentioned in the
introduction, this study will be limited to upper secondary schools in Malmö and to the course English 6.
2.1. Research questions
Therefore, the research question and sub-questions for this study are formed as follows:
How can digital educational games be effective for English teaching in upper secondary school?
1. To what extent can digital educational games be used in the classroom and how does this practice relate to the steering documents?
2. What are English teachers’ attitudes in Malmö towards using digital educational games in the course English 6?
3. What are teachers’ perceptions of students’ motivation in the game-based learning classroom?
This section presents relevant theoretical information for understanding the key concepts for this study. It includes the Swedish steering document for English 6, multimedia learning, definitions of game-based learning and gamification, theories and research on motivation, and teachers' attitudes, beliefs and relevant research.
3.1. Steering documents - English 6
The Swedish national steering documents, curriculum and syllabus for the upper secondary level English course 6 advocate for students’ development of all-round communicative skills through the use of language in functional and meaningful contexts (Skolverket, 2011).
This is central to the steering documents, as the main objective is for the student to learn how to use the language and attain knowledge in both written and spoken language.
Furthermore, Skolverket (2013) state in the curriculum for upper secondary school that:
“It is the responsibility of the school to give all the individual students the
opportunities and ensure that each student can use [...] library sources and modern technology as a tool in the search for knowledge, communication, creativity and learning” (p. 9).
In relation to knowledge and communication, the syllabus for English stipulates that the overall goal for teaching English in Sweden is to give the student the opportunity to participate in different contexts, both social, cultural, global studies and working life (Skolverket, 2011). Games are considered to be a subculture today and culture is largely addressed throughout the curriculum and syllabus for upper secondary school.
Additionally, Skolverket (2011) specifies in the aims of the subject that:
“Students should be given the opportunity to interact in speech and writing, and to produce spoken language and texts of different kinds, both on their own and together with others, using different aids and media'' (p. 1).
Students today communicate in their daily lives through aids and media, and games can be considered to be aids and media. As mentioned by Skolverket (2020) in their material regarding the digitalization, digital technology has a major influence on how young people perceive themselves and the surrounding society since they consume, produce and
communicate through the help of various media. In relation to this, students should learn how
to use different strategies to support communication and solve problems when language skills are insufficient (Skolverket, 2020).
What is specified in the steering documents and the syllabus for English 6 is that students should learn the structure of the English language, in written and spoken language through printed sources or other ways such as via different aids and media as mentioned above (Skolverket, 2011). Therefore, it can be argued that digital educational games can and indeed should be considered as viable tools for English language teaching as they qualify as
technological aids and media, and are part of new forms of culture for young people today.
The students' learning is related to the digital competence, and this is explicitly mentioned in the curriculum, syllabus and the Swedish steering documents (Skolverket, 2020).
3.2. Multimedia learning and the characteristics of digital games
Multimedia learning occurs when people build mental representations from words (spoken, text or printed), and pictures (illustrations, photos, animations or video) and appear in the context of educational multimedia applications designed to support or guide students’ learning (Mayer, 2005). Today’s modern computer games use a wide range of media, such as sound effects, voice, music, video, interactive graphics and animations; they often have rich visual and auditory interfaces that present a wide variety of information simultaneously (Whitton, 2014, p. 169).
Whitton (2014) argues that it is useful to consider the relevance of theories associated with multimedia learning and to assess their application in digital-based learning. There are a wide variety of theories which focus on multimedia learning; however, this research will focus on two of the most common ones. One specialises in processing non-verbal information (graphic or visual information) and the other focuses on the language learning process.
The first theory, which is considered to be the heart of cognitive theories of multimedia learning, is the dual-coding theory by Clark and Paivio (1991). The theory suggests that there are two separate parallel cognitive subsystems in the human brain. By presenting information simultaneously in both visual and verbal forms, for example by showing graphics with auditory commentary it could improve learning (Clark & Paivio, 1991).
The second theory on multimedia learning is the cognitive theory by Mayer (2001), which presupposes that dual-coding exists, assuming that humans possess separate information
procession channels for non-verbal and visual material, and that there is a limited amount of processing capacity available in both of these channels (Mayer, 2001).
When using games for learning, a teacher or pedagogue adds another cognitive feature. This is because the student has to learn the game interface, conventions and the intended learning outcome (Whitton, 2014, p. 173). By using digital educational games in an educational setting and contemplating on the use of digital educational games, teachers or pedagogues could also consider the characteristics of digital games when planning their lessons. Two major senses are often considered when discussing multimedia learning characteristics: Visual learning and auditory learning (Whitton, 2014).
3.2.1. Visual learning
One of our most dominant senses is sight, especially when it comes to understanding the surrounding world. The way people use and produce visual information is crucial, not just within the context of computer games but is also central to visual literacy (Whitton, 2014, p.
173). In games, visual design elements include the game style (for example, whether it is photo-realistic or cartoon), video clips and level of realism (Whitton, 2014).
The visual design of games and learning materials can influence how usable, applicable and motivational they are to students. Graphics can support learning in various ways of drawing attention, helping students create new mental models from established ones, simplifying presentation, enhancing transfer to real life and increasing motivation (Clark & Lyons, 2004).
3.2.2. Auditory learning
There is little research carried out on the area of game sounds related to learning or on the use of sound in learning in general (Whitton, 2014). There are games designed with the purpose to make use of sounds, such as musical games or games that require auditory input from the player; however, there is very little research in regard to educational settings (Whitton, 2014, p. 175).
Game audio can be described as a function which can support the player's understanding of what needs to be done (e.g. challenges or tasks) (Whitton, 2014). The auditory cues and alerts then provide the player with a sense of mood and presence but what is important to take into
consideration is that these functions depend on the game's genre; since there can be a difference in the auditory input (Whitton, 2014).
Follman (2004) is one of the researchers who have investigated the sounds in games and defined four main categories of sound. The categories are the following; (1) vocalisation - e.g., narrator, (2) sound effects - a door creaking, (3) ambient effects - city noises or people talking in the background, and (4) music - setting a scene, playing on emotions or setting a rhythm while playing (Follman, 2004). When music is used in a learning context, it could increase the students' motivation and desire to learn by setting a rhythm for the students (Whitton, 2014).
3.3. Game-based learning and gamification
When implementing digital educational games in an educational environment there are two frequently mentioned terms and approaches which are; game-based learning (GBL) and gamification. GBL and gamification can support the teachers and justify the use of digital educational games for example answering the questions on why they are implementing digital educational games, and how teachers can use digital games in educational settings.
GBL is a term which refers to ‘playing’ games with the purpose of learning (Plass, Homer &
Kinzer, 2015). There are a few definitions of GBL; many of them often emphasise that it is gameplay with defined learning outcomes (Shaffer, Halverson, Squire & Gee, 2005).
Researchers such as Plass et al. (2015), Lindberg (2016) and Egenfeldt-Nielsen (2006) argue that usually it is assumed that the game is a digital game; however, that is not always the case.
In regard to this, it is essential that the game design process for learning involves balancing the need to cover the subject matter with the desire to prioritize game-play (Plass et al., 2015).
According to Egenfeldt-Nielsen (2006), teachers or pedagogues who use GBL should be careful not to confuse learning how to play games and accidentally learning from games with a targeted educational effort of games. Moreover, Egenfeldt-Nielsen (2006) points out that the educational use of games is characteristic and the learning experience has to have a specific goal (Egenfeldt-Nielsen, 2006).
Van Eck (2006) writes about three approaches of how GBL tends to be incorporated in educational settings; (1) let students play games based on specific school subjects, (2) use educational games designed to teach players specific content and (3) use commercial off-the-
shelf games (COTS) and plan learning activities based on them. However, such games as COTS rarely have learning purposes in the game design and learning occurs through activities the teachers plan in connection with them (Van Eck, 2006).
The concept of gamifications regards the strategic attempt to enhance activities, in order to create experiences to those who are playing the games with the purpose of motivating their users. As stated by Whitton (2014) and Detering, Khaled and Nacke (2011) gamification is not a new concept in education, rather it is a concept that has been used throughout time in areas such as marketing, business and other professions. In military training, aviation training, different types of medical fields and other professions have used gamification in their training in their specific settings to motivate, engage and train the users. In the early 2000’s the rise of digital educational games has transformed the concept of gamification into a substantial industry and research field of its own, and thus digital educational games can be defined as any form of interactive computer-based software (for one or multiple players) to be used on any platform that has been developed with the intention to be more than just entertainment (Detering et al., 2011). Teachers, manages and others use gamification to increase the participation and to improve productivity and motivation, and it is often used as an essential feature in apps and websites designed to motivate people to meet personal challenges such as learning a forgein language (Merriam-Webster, 2021)
The meaning of the term gamification varies widely but its defining qualities, as stated above, is the use of game-like elements in different settings. This research focuses on the use of gamification or gamifying the teaching in educational settings, where the game elements can be different features that motivates the players (in this case the students) and inspire the students to engage in tasks that they perhaps would otherwise not find attractive or engaging (Plass et al., 2015). Whitton (2014) further describes that gamification is not about using entire games but about using the techniques from games that can promote learning and engagement by applying them to different contexts (Whitton, 2014, p. 85).
Although GBL and gamification are two very similar terms, they differ when it comes down to the incorporation of digital games in an educational setting. As described by Detering et al.
(2011), Whitton (2014) and Lindberg (2016) using elements from game design in a non-game situation create different types of experiences. When using gamification in the classroom, one way could be for example to turn the planned activity during class into a contest between two teams, as a way to increase motivation (Lindberg, 2016).
Plass et al. (2015) provides an example of how GBL and gamification can be distinguished from each other. The example provided by Plass et al. (2015) of gamification is math homework which involves giving students’ points or stars when completing existing
activities. GBL of the same math topic on the other hand (even though it might include points or stars) would involve redesigning the homework activities/tasks using rules to make the homework more interesting and engaging (Plass et al., 2015, p. 259). When using elements from game design and applying them in a non-game activity e.g. homework can transform the experience into a more enjoyable experience for the students (Plass et al,. 2015). GBL
transforms the homework into a game with specific rules and is aimed towards a specific subject whilst gamifications do not transform the homework into an actual game, it just adds game-like features in game-like activities in a non-game context (Lindberg, 2016, Whitton, 2014).
3.4. Theories on students’ motivation
Motivation is a key concern for language teachers and the problem is about how to motivate students, keep the students motivativated, and handle the students' lack of interest and
influences of uninspiring materials (Burns & Richards, 2012). In order to understand the inner nature of students' motivation, it is important to consider practical concerns and approaches that can engage students in the second language classroom (Burns & Richards, 2012). The students must be internally driven rather than externally regulated by teachers; though, teachers play an essential role in supporting the students and motivating them to continue developing their knowledge (Burns & Richards, 2012).
A process model of second language learners motivation made by Dörnyei and Ottos (1998) represents an attempt to describe the structure of learners motivation and then divide into preactional (choice of motivation), actional (executive motivation) and post actional (evaluation) phases. These phases include diverse internal and contextual influences which may improve motivation (Dörnyei & Ottos, 1998). Based on the process model, Dörnyei (2001b) created a framework for motivational teaching practices. The framework includes the following phases; (1) creating the basic motivational conditions - establishing good social relations and a positive learning atmosphere, (2) generating initial motivation - building students’ interest and positive attitudes to learning the language, (3) maintaining and
protecting motivation - comprising pedagogical strategies for keeping students motivated and
involved during the learning process, and (4) encouraging positive retrospective self- evaluation - entails the students to enhance their self-perception of competence and success (in Richards & Burns, 2012).
The framework is elaborated as a taxonomy consisting of 35 motivational strategies. These strategies are confined into sub-strategies as in the following example of Strategy 18 (Dörnyei, 2001b):
“Strategy 18: Make learning stimulating and enjoyable for the learner by increasing the attractiveness of the task. More specifically:
· Make the tasks challenging.
· Make task content attractive by adapting it to the students’ natural interests or
by including novel, intriguing, exotic, humorous, competitive or fantasy elements.
· Personalize learning tasks.
· Select tasks that yield tangible, finished products.” (p. 77).
Dörnyei (2001b) states that the teaching should not include all of the 35 strategies, though the framework is valuable in marking the possibilities for strategic intervention in order to
improve students' motivation. In relation to Dörnyei's (2001b) framework and strategies, Whitton (2014) writes about the importance of creating appropriate challenges which is the key to creating a motivational environment for the students.
Research on motivation and the implementation of digital educational games is often divided into two focuses; the initial motivation to engage students in game playing and extrinsic motivation to play a specific game (Whitton, 2014). The initial motivation in students is engaged in game playing and this is according to Salen and Zimmerman (2004) the 'seduction' meaning; when incorporating digital games in an educational setting the students are engaged when playing the game. The 'seduction' occurs before the player (the student) is willing to take part in the activity and is then seduced by the initial motivation which engages them to partake in the planned activity (Salen & Zimmermann, 2004). Extrinsic motivation is the sustained motivation, which mean that the participants want to continue playing or participate in an activity and is commonly termed as 'engagement'. What is important to consider is the appropriate level of challenges that the teachers have chosen influences the motivation,
meaning; the motivation to play on a subsequent occasions with different types of challenges can increase the motivation and engagement in the planned task (Whitton, 2014).
Researchers such as Ferrara (2012) investigate and describe several common ways of inducing motivation when playing digital games; which is, inducing immersion (flow), a feeling of autonomy, a feeling of competence, and social interaction as an outlet for creativity (Ferrara, 2012). Another researcher who has investigated students’ motivation is Malone (1980) which created some of the original and most influential work on computer games and motivation. The author investigated the elements that make computer games motivational and thus highlighted three aspects of games that positively influence motivation; challenge
(depend on goals with uncertain outcomes), fantasy (cognitive and emotional advantages), and curiosity (sensory and cognitive components) (Malone, 1980).
3.5. Teacher beliefs and attitudes3.5.1. Definitions of beliefs and attitudes
The definition of beliefs varies; one of them defines beliefs as forming the process of understanding how teachers shape their work, which is significant for the comprehension of their teaching methods and their decisions in the classroom (Gilakanji & Sabouri, 2017).
Researchers such as Zheng (2009) argue that teachers’ beliefs are significant ideas in comprehending teachers’ thought processes, teaching methods and practices (p. 11).
There are many definitions of an attitude, but this study focuses on one of them, which is an attitude defined as a tendency to react positively or negatively towards a particular object, a person, idea or situation (Nel, Müller, Hugo, Helldin, Bäckman, Dwyer & Skarlind, 2011).
Research has described attitudes to be closely related to one's opinion and often built upon previous experience (Nel et al., 2011, p. 3).
3.5.2. Research on teachers’ beliefs and attitudes
There are studies investigating teachers' attitudes towards the use of digital educational games, which highlights the importance of teachers' attitudes in order to implement them in their own teaching. Some of the research investigates pre-service teachers attitudes towards the utilization of digital educational games, and focuses on the perspective of teachers
attitudes in relation to teaching strategies and the implementation of digital educational games
in the learning environment (Ray & Coulter, 2010; Kenny & McDaniel, 2011; Kennedy- Clark, Galstaun & Andersson, 2011; Sardone and Devlin-Schrerer, 2010; Becker, 2007).
The research by Ray and Coulter (2010) investigated the utilization of games and the influence on pre-service teachers' attitudes when given the chance to play the chosen game themselves and understand how it works. The teachers were interviewed before, during, and after they were given the opportunities to assess whether digital educational games could work in educational settings. The results showed a positive change throughout the study when the teachers were given a chance to try the games further on their own. Thus, the teachers' attitudes became more positive towards incorporating digital educational games in their teaching practices.
In a similar study conducted by Kenny and McDaniel (2011) which also investigated pre- service teachers’ attitudes, the teachers’ attitudes changed from negative to positive after playing the game themselves, and the experience encouraged the teachers to see the value in digital educational games (Kenny & McDaniel, 2011).
Kennedy-Clark et al. (2011) further investigated the integration of GBL in a workshop for pre-service teachers and studied their attitudes. The teachers were interviewed before and after the workshop on their attitudes toward GBL and the incorporation of digital educational games. The teachers' attitudes shifted from negative to positive after their participation in the workshop.
In a field study conducted by Sardone and Devlin-Schrerer (2010) the authors investigated pre-service teachers and explored their use of digital learning games. During the study the teachers were given the opportunity to utilize the game in their middle/high schools with their students. Afterwards, both the students and the teachers presented their experiences and the teachers described the experience of the students' presentations as having a positive influence on the teachers' attitudes (Sardone and Devlin-Schrerer, 2010).
Although the research regarding pre-service teachers shows a shift to positive results
regarding the attitudes on the use of games in educational settings, the studies have revealed some practical concerns. One reason for teachers being sceptical of the pedagogical value in using digital games is that they lack experience with using digital educational games
(Gaudelli & Taylor, 2011; Schrader, Zheng & Young, 2006). In one study conducted by Becker (2007) the in-service teachers played, evaluated and reviewed several games in a course that was at graduate-level and regarding digital-GBL. The outcome of the study
showed how the teachers became interested and excited in regard to the integration of digital games into the classroom to enhance learning, thus creating opportunities where the teachers can gain experience and their attitudes transform (Becker, 2007).
This study adopts a qualitative approach and investigates the attitudes and practices of six teachers at upper secondary school level regarding the use of digital educational games and their experience of the resultant effects of student motivation in language learning. The participants are all licensed upper secondary school teachers to ensure the relevance of the results. In order to answer the research questions, we will collect two sets of data;
questionnaire surveys and follow-up interviews via email. The follow-up interviews are conducted if deemed necessary (Fritz & Vandermause, 2018) and if the participants’
themselves want to. The collected data sample will be small in terms of one city in Sweden, though it will be diverse as the choice of town is Malmö.
This section introduces how participants of this study were selected, the choice of method for gathering relevant data, the structure of the conducted survey questionnaire and follow-up interviews via email, materials used for this study and ethical considerations.
The participants of this study consist of six licensed upper secondary school teachers from three different schools in Malmö. The participants either have English as their first or second subject. The names of the schools and the teachers will be anonymised with their genders, which is why they are referred to as ‘they’ or ‘their’.
Table 1 – participants of the study
Participants Experience in years Currently teaching at level School
Teacher A 1 5, 6 and 7 School 1
Teacher B 22 5 School 2
Teacher C 10 5, 6 and 7 School 1
Teacher D 35 5 and 6 School 1
Teacher E ~8 6 and 7 School 2
Teacher F 2 5, 6 and 7 School 3
In accordance with Vetenskapsrådet (2021) requirements regarding anonymity and for the sake of clarity in the text, we are adopting the type of participant identification in the text as follows: “teacher A1” or “teacher B2”, where the letter indicates the individual teacher and the number the school. So, in the case of “teacher B2”, the letter B indicates that it is the second teacher from school 2 and for “teacher A1”, the letter A indicates that it is the first teacher from school 1.
For this qualitative research we have used questionnaire surveys with structured questions. A questionnaire survey is a technique for gathering statistical information about attributes, actions or attitudes from selected participants or a population (Preston, 2009). In our study, the questionnaire survey was sent out to the participants with structured questions, which is in accordance with Preston’s (2009) example of how one could create a questionnaire survey.
Additionally, the information gathered from the questionnaire survey was constructed through the process of first designing and administering the data results and then compiling it
One of the beneficial factors of a questionnaire survey is that all the participants receive the same questions. Thus, the chance for the interviewer to influence how the correspondents answer all the questions is less during a questionnaire survey than during a qualitative interview; since the questions are often presented in writing (Hjerm, Lindgren &
The structure of the questionnaire survey strives to create a comfortable environment for the respondent and indicates that there are no incorrect answers. For this study, we have chosen to follow Kvale’s (2009) focus on themes, when constructing the questionnaire survey. This focuses on the importance of themes in order to respond to open-ended questions based on real life experience rather than a quantity-fixed categorisation (Kvale, 2009). The questions were divided into the following themes; (1) teacher background and experience, (2) teachers' attitudes, and (3) teachers' practises.
After the collection of the data from the questionnaire survey, we selected our follow-up interviews based on the determination of their answers, and if they have answered that they want to participate in a follow-up interview. For the follow-up interviews, we have semi- structured questions for each of the participants, which is suggested by Fritz and
We chose to conduct the follow-up interviews via email due to the current Covid-19 pandemic, and the pressure that teachers might be under due to the circumstances with the current period of distance teaching. Moreover, contacting participants via email emerged as an effective way to receive a greater response in participants (Fritz & Vandermause, 2018).
When conducting in-depth interviews via email there are advantages, such as convenience;
the participants are not location bound. The second advantage to consider is that in in-depth interviews via email, the answers and the data can become clearer, more concise and richer since the response may increase in depth due to the participants’ ability to respond at a later or more convenient time.
To recruit teachers, we used the snowball effect which is when a researcher contacts a responder in an organisation and the responder passes forward the information to suitable participants (Alvehus, 2013). In this case, the information was sent out to the administration of the upper secondary schools or the principals, which then sent it forward to teachers of the English subject at the upper secondary school, thus creating a snowball effect.
The questionnaire survey was sent out via link to all of the participants separately and was conducted via Google Forms. All of the questions in the questionnaire survey were written in English since some of the participants were either native English speakers or native speakers of other languages.
The follow-up interviews were, as mentioned above, conducted via email and sent out in April and May of 2021 to teachers who wanted to participate. The participants were once again informed that they could abort their participation at any time.
4.4. Ethical considerations
According to The Swedish Research Council (Vetenskapsrådet, 2021) there are four main principles that must be followed; (1) information, (2) consent, (3) confidentially, and (4) usage. To begin with, we have to inform the participant that they are taking part in a
questionnaire survey and follow-up interview via email and were further informed that they could abort their participation at any time. Afterwards, we need the consent from the participants to collect the used information that they give. In regard to confidentiality, we confirmed that all the information that is given is handled with the utmost care and that the results are anonymized to protect the interviewees’ integrity. Moreover, we as interviewers are not allowed to pass on any of the collected information to anyone besides the researchers of this study who follow the same principles as we do (Vetenskapsrådet, 2021).
In this section the result of the conducted questionnaire surveys and follow-up interviews are presented. The section is structured through a presentation of the results from each of the interview teachers separately, this is to ensure clarity of the teachers answers and therefore adding transparency to the results. The sub-headings are based on the themes presented in the method section and they are the following; teachers' background and experience with digital educational games, teachers’ implementation of digital educational games in the English classroom, and teachers’ attitudes regarding digital educational games and teachers’
perception of students' motivation.
As mentioned above, in the method section we are adopting the type of participant
identification in the text as follows; “teacher A1” or “teacher B2”, where the letter indicates the individual teacher and the number indicates the school. So, in the case of “teacher B2”, the letter B indicates that it is the second teacher from school 2 and for “teacher A1”, the letter A indicates that it is the first teacher from school 1.
Furthermore, the teachers are additionally anonymized in that their gender is not specified and they are referred to as ‘they’ or ‘their’.
5.1. Teacher background and experience of using digital educational games
This section presents the teachers' background, their current school, the level of English they are currently teaching, and their experiences using digital educational games.
Teacher A1 has English as their second subject and has currently worked at the same school as teachers C1 and D1 for one year. Regarding teacher A1's experience of digital educational games, they responded that they are comfortable in the digital classroom. They further answered that they have previously used digital educational games in their teaching and that their choice of educational games was Kahoot and a project based on the COTS game 'Among Us'.
Teacher B2 has worked for 22 years at upper secondary school level and is currently teaching at the same school as teacher E2. Teacher B2 are 'somewhat' experienced and comfortable in the digital educational classroom with digital educational games, such as Kahoot. In the
follow-up interview via email, teacher B2 further explained that they have limited experience with digital educational games. However, teacher B2 wrote that they have been presented with some examples of digital educational games in their education during lectures. We further asked teacher B2 if any other games has been presented to teacher B2 during their work at the current school or during their education. Teacher B2 responded that they have been introduced to other games in lectures that they have attended and explained that they have used Kahoot as a news quiz and for practising English vocabulary.
The third teacher, C1, has worked for 10 years in the same upper secondary school as A1 and D1. They have English as their second subject and answered that they have not much
experience with digital educational games. Teacher C's game of choice was the digital
educational game Kahoot and COTS games such as Among Us and Geoguesser. However, as teacher C1 mentioned above, they do not have very much experience with digital educational games in their teaching. They further express that they are not very familiar with any games that could work better than other teaching methods regarding language learning. Teacher C1 further expressed that the students need less screen time and work more with printed sources when asked if they were comfortable with digital educational games. However, they express that if they were introduced to high-quality digital educational games, they would be more open to implementing digital educational games in their teaching. In addition, teacher D1, as previously mentioned, works at the same upper secondary school as teachers A1 and C1.
Teacher D1 answers that they are partly comfortable in the digital classroom and have used digital educational games in their teaching to some extent.
Teacher E2 had been working in upper secondary school for approximately 8 years in Sweden and 3 years in Germany, and they are currently teaching at the same school as teacher B2.
They have responded that they are comfortable in the digital classroom, and teacher E2 has experience working in a digital manner. In the follow-up interview via email, teacher E2 was asked if they had been introduced to digital educational games during their education to become an upper secondary school teacher or during their work. Teacher E2 responded that they have neither been presented educational games during the education nor in their current school.
Lastly, teacher F3 has been working for 2 years at school 3 and is currently working with the IM program (individual program) at their upper secondary school. They further expressed that they are comfortable in the digital classroom and have used digital educational games in their teaching; however, they commented that it is not always easy to relate digital educational
games to English 6. When they have used digital educational games, they have mainly used Quizlet in their teaching. The follow-up interview via email asked teacher F3 if they have been presented to other digital educational games during the education of becoming an upper secondary school teacher or during the current or previous school work. Teacher F3
responded that they have not.
5.2. Implementation of digital educational games in the English 6 classroom
The participating teachers were asked how they have implemented digital educational games in their teaching and how they have used the presented games described in the section above.
Teacher A1 had, as previously mentioned, done a project based on the COTS game 'Among Us' and have used the digital educational game Kahoot in their teaching. They explain further that they have used the games, but mostly the digital educational game Kahoot, as a 'palate cleanser', meaning that they have used the game in between tasks to get the student more enthusiastic and motivated to learn. Furthermore, teacher A1 uses digital educational games since it engages students in learning and participating in an activity as a tool for repetition.
Teachers C1 and D1 both answered that they have used Kahoot but did not mention to which extent since they both expressed their lack of experience with digital educational games.
Unfortunately, we could not ask them further on how they had used the digital educational games since they could not participate in the follow-up interviews via email.
In addition, teachers B2, E2 and F3 all had implemented digital educational games to a larger extent than the other participating teachers. Teacher B2 had incorporated Kahoot as a news quiz to practice vocabulary learning and repetition. In addition, teacher E2 has also
implemented digital educational games for vocabulary acquisitions and new areas regarding vocabulary. Their use was exclusively in vocabulary learning since it can help the students learn new vocabulary and repetition on vocabulary and to learn rhetorical devices. In the follow-up interview, teacher E2 further explained that the digital educational game Quizlet live worked well for different types of activities in the classroom and homework. Teacher E2 further adds that the games Kahoot and Quizlet Live were a great tool for students since they are often learning individually, and therefore games worked 'good' for them. Additionally, teacher E2 expressed their concerns about Kahoot, mentioning that it works 'good' in the
classroom, but they considered Kahoot to be easily hackable and has very little pedagogical profit.
Lastly, teacher F3 has also implemented digital educational games, specifically Quizlet, to teach vocabulary and language acquisition. They also commented that the game works well with the students' study plans in the IM program (individual program) since they often work individually. Therefore, teacher F3 could implement digital educational games well with their study plans, and that it often depended on the students' needs.
5.3. Teacher attitudes’ and student motivation
For this research, as mentioned above in section 2., we investigated the teachers' attitudes towards digital educational games and their perceptions of the students' motivation. This was made to investigate the effectiveness of digital educational games in the teachers' self-
reported practice and can contribute with more knowledge regarding the thoughts behind their use.
Teacher A1 considers the option to use digital educational games in their classroom as beneficial. However, pointing out that there are some limitations, such as; time since it can take time to plan the use, create the questions for the chosen games and then use it. However, their attitudes towards using digital educational games are positive. In regard to the students motivation, teacher A1 thinks that the students tend to forget about learning and explains that they believe that makes the use of digital educational games good in educational
settings. However, we could not ask teacher A1 any further questions on their usage and attitudes since they could not participate in a follow-up interview via email. But the answers we gathered from the survey questionnaire displayed their attitude as positive.
Teacher B2's attitudes towards incorporating digital educational games in their teaching is positive. This is mainly because they are, to some extent, comfortable in the digital classroom.
Concerning the students' motivation, they answer that games with constant feedback and competitive features are the best. Lastly, teacher B2 responded that their perception of student motivation when using digital educational games is that students enjoy it for the moment and that teacher B2 was not sure about the long-time learning. Therefore, the follow-up question focused on why teacher B2 was concerned about the students' long-time learning; whereas
teacher B2 responded that they have not seen any proof of long-time learning related to educational games.
Teachers C1 and D1 share the same attitudes towards the use of digital educational games.
Teacher C1's attitudes towards using digital educational games are somewhat mixed. Their answer was in regard to the students, that they need to have less screen time and more teacher-to-student time. Teacher C1 further commented that they are open to using digital educational games if they had more information about using them. In addition, teacher D1's answers were similar to teacher C1, where they expressed both positive and negative attitudes since, as mentioned above, they do not have as much experience with digital educational games. However, teacher D1 answered that the students' motivation has not been affected, since teacher D1 responded that they believe that students tend to see the use of games as less serious learning.
Additionally, they answer that it needs to be regarded as a complement to other methods when using digital educational games. Teacher D1 further explains that they think the students would agree. We could not ask teacher D1 why students would perceive digital educational games as less serious since teacher D1 could not participate in the follow-up interview.
Additionally, teachers E2 and F3's perception of student motivation are both very similar;
since they both have experience with digital educational games and are usually working with digitalized material, their attitudes were positive towards implementing digital educational games. Teacher E2 explains their perception of the students' motivation from the perspective that students' like to win; therefore, it motivates them, and when they are motivated, they learn. One of the follow-up questions asked teacher E2 further on the students' motivation and the aspect of winning and if they have seen other aspects, they have noticed when using digital educational games in their teaching. In addition, teacher E2 explained that the fun elements of digital educational games (competition, challenge and winning) motivate the students and their thought of the game being fun is another added factor. Lastly, teacher F3 expressed their perception of students' motivation as 'good' and to reach a more developed answer; the follow-up question further asked what they meant by 'good'. Teacher F3 explained that digital educational games work well as a tool to motivate students to learn.
In one of the programs, teacher F3 teaches in (the IM-program) they expressed that digital educational games work well to motivate the students since they can be combined with clear goals and planned assignments that target their individual levels.
This section presents, analyses and discusses the collected data in relation with the research, practices and approaches presented in section 3. In order to answer our research question:
How can digital educational games be effective for English teaching in upper secondary school, we have the following sub-questions:
1. To what extent can digital educational games be used in the classroom and how does this practice relate to the steering documents?
2. What are English teachers’ attitudes in Malmö towards using digital educational games in the course English 6?
3. What are teachers’ perceptions of students’ motivation in the game-based learning classroom?
These sub-questions provide the inspiration for the subheadings of this discussion section.
The first sub-question aligns with the subheading 6.1, the second sub-question aligns with the subheading 6.2, the third sub-question aligns with the subheading 6.3. and the fourth
subheading corresponds to recommendations for how teachers can implement and use digital educational games in their teaching.
6.1. Digital educational games in accordance with the Swedish national steering documents
As presented in section 3.1, the curriculum and syllabus for English teaching and learning imply that digital educational games can work as a tool in order to support the students with different learning purposes. This can be interpreted since the syllabus for English 6 refers to different aids and medias, and to develop strategies in different situations with different purposes as well as focusing on developing language skills; which digital educational games possibly can do if the teacher thoroughly plans how to include them in their teaching. And this in order to make it as effective as possible, suited to the situation, and with a clear purpose (Skolverket, 2013).
Throughout the curriculum for upper secondary school (2013), the focus lies on the students' needs and opportunities to gather knowledge and create strategies on how they could achieve
these. By giving the students opportunities to learn how to use modern technologies and new strategies as a tool in the search for their learning, it can further be connected to the teachers' use of these tools in the classroom which potentially can influence the students' learning process (Skolverket, 2013).
The result from the collected data displayed that four (A1, B2, E2, F3) of six upper secondary school teachers in Malmö had incorporated digital educational games to aid language
learning. As shown in the result of the conducted questionnaire survey and follow-up interviews via email, the teachers had different responses on whether they have used digital educational games in accordance with the syllabus for English 6 or other steering documents.
Teachers A1, B2, E2, and F3 all have incorporated digital educational games in some form in accordance with the syllabus but interpreted it in their own ways through creating activities for language acquisition, rhetorical devices, vocabulary exercises and repetition. Since vocabulary acquisition and repetition is included in the core content for English 6, this
displays further on how digital educational games can be argued to be included in the syllabus and the steering documents. Even though it is not specifically written as digital educational games in the steering documents one could consider the implementation of digital games in the classroom.
In the questionnaire survey, teacher F3, indicated difficulty in connecting the use of digital educational games to the steering document, because the incorporation of digital games or other forms of tools is not written clearly in the steering documents. Additionally, digital educational games are not mentioned explicitly by ’games’ as stated throughout the research, however vocabulary acquisition, language learning etc is mentioned clearly in the syllabus.
As mentioned by Lindberg (2016) the distinction becomes somewhat ‘fuzzy’ on how teachers could incorporate digital educational games in accordance with the steering documents. As mentioned above, culture however is also mentioned throughout the steering documents and games are considered to be a form of subculture, which is largely addressed in the steering documents.
As previously mentioned in the background section 3.1., Skolverket (2020) has written material based on how Sweden should become more digitalized in the school environments and improve digital competence among teachers and learners. This can lead to a better
understanding of the possibilities of the digitalized classroom and how teachers can make use of the digital educational games which correlates to the Swedish steering documents.
Furthermore, as described in the background 3.1 digital toolsand different aids and media are a vital part of the student’s daily life, and since digital games are considered a subculture in our modern society, this could be an argument in order to apply them in an educational context; thus, adding to the educational aspect of potentially implementing digital educational games.
6.2. Teacher attitudes towards digital educational games
Teachers' attitudes are important since it can influence the teachers' practice and
implementation of digital educational games. The research highlighted the importance of teachers’ attitudes and how they affect the teacher’s choice of teaching strategies and methods in regard to the implementation of digital educational tools in pre-service and in-service teachers in high school and upper secondary school teachers in Sweden. This study with the collected analysed data from the participating teachers investigated their attitudes towards the implementation of digital educational games, and the results have shown some teachers scepticism of the pedagogical value in using digital educational games.
The studies presented in section 3.5.2. show the change of attitudes from negative to positive in service and preservice teachers, when given the chance to gain more experience and understanding of how digital educational games could work in educational settings. As presented, the studies on preservice and in-service teachers attitudes in regard to the
incorporation of digital educational games, all displayed similar results, and the attitudes went from negative to positive when given the chance to gain more experience and understanding of how digital educational games could potentially work.
By giving the teachers the chances to become more comfortable and experienced with digital educational games, the attitudes changed to positive when implementing digital educational games in their teaching. The results from the presented studies displayed in section 5.2.
correspond with the collected data from our study, where the participating teachers'
experience played an essential role in the comfortability of using digital educational games.
Teachers A1, E2 and F3 responded that they were experienced and comfortable with using digital educational games in their classrooms, and as presented in section 5.2., they all have incorporated digital educational games differently in their teaching practices.
Since the teacher’s C1 and D1 did not have much experience using digital educational games, it was displayed in their mixed attitudes towards the games since they did not have as much experience as the other participating teachers (A1, B2, E3 & F3). Teacher D1's answer
differed even more from the other participating teachers. Even though they have a positive attitude, they further expressed some essential aspects of the students' learning process regarding incorporating digital educational games. They expressed that they are considering the fact that the students' need less screen time, and therefore, they have some mixed attitudes towards incorporating digital educational games.
The results from the conducted questionnaire surveys and follow-up interviews via email displayed a difference between the teachers' attitudes towards incorporating digital
educational games in educational settings in three upper secondary schools in Malmö. The results displayed that the teachers' attitudes were partly negative but mainly positive regarding the implementation of digital educational games. The analysed collected data from this
research also revealed a need for experience, materials and resources for higher educational levels in Sweden. In addition to this, most of the participating teachers did not have much experience using digital educational games (besides the games presented in section 5.1. &
5.2.). They expressed their wish for more experience and understanding on how they could incorporate digital educational games in their teaching.
Throughout the conducted research and the analyzed data from the six upper secondary teachers in Malmö, the aspect of the teachers' experience is discussed when it comes to the teachers' attitudes towards implementing digital educational games in educational settings.
The experience can affect the teachers' attitudes and result in them not using them due to the lack of experience, which leads to them being less comfortable. Gaudelli and Taylor (2011) and Schrader et al. (2006) argue that the teachers' scepticism of the utilization of digital educational games is rooted in their inexperience in using digital educational games in their teaching practices. Thus, displaying the importance of the need for experience and displaying that there is insufficient research on how teachers could implement digital educational games at higher educational levels in Sweden. In addition, as mentioned above, all of the six
participating teachers wished they knew more about how digital educational games can work in the English teaching classroom and which games can be beneficial for the student's
motivation and desire to learn.
6. 3. Teachers’ perception on student motivation
For digital educational games to motivate students it is important to consider the challenges, features, styles and the planned activities. Thus, creating challenges, encouraging curiosity, fantasy and looking at how the chosen games can motivate students. What is important for teachers to consider when trying to motivate students, is how and why the chosen game can be encouraging and motivating.
The collected research on student motivation foregrounds concepts of self and identity, which are, as stated by Burns and Richards (2012), important practical implications for motivation and interaction in educational settings. As stated by Gärdenfors (2013) the modern pedagogics can bring forward that play and games are essential for the learning process. As presented in the background section 3.4. Dörnyei's (2001b) process model, which consists of 35 strategies to improve second language learner motivation, suggest that there lies a value in improving the students' motivation in the long-term process. As discussed further in the background section 3.4. Dörnyei (2001b) further explains the teaching processes and emphasises to only include the strategies that are considered valuable in marking the possibilities in order to improve the students’ motivation.
Additionally, as mentioned in section 3.2., there is research presented on how digital educational games can affect students' motivation and the features of digital educational games. Malones (1980) research highlights the elements that make computer games motivational and identifies three aspects of games that positively influence motivation; (1) challenge, (2) fantasy, and (3) curiosity. As Malone (1980) further described, the aspect of challenge is diving into the goals (the activity goals or the specific subject’s goals) and the outcomes, meaning that there are several ways of creating outcomes with uncertainty. These aspects focus on the importance of creating a certain challenge that motivates the students enough to partake in the conducted assignment and their desire to learn (Malone, 1980).
Fantasy focuses on the cognitive and emotional advantages in designing instructional and educational environments; however, as mentioned by Malone (1980) there is a distinction between existing fantasy (which depends on the skill used in games) and the instinct fantasy (which is related to the use of skill). What Malone (1980) means here is that there is a difference between the fantasy focus in how the game elements present it and the skill to use the fantasy while playing the chosen digital educational game. Furthermore, the aspect of challenge, curiosity and fantasy can be combined to increase the students’ motivation and
engagement even more with the support of the visual and auditory senses presented in section 3.2.2. such as music, pictures, clips or sound effects.
The research found regarding what motivates students and teachers attitudes towards it
correlates with the participating teachers' answers in this study. In our collected analysed data, teachers E2 and B2 further argue that the students need to be challenged and that it can
happen when teachers incorporate digital educational games in their teaching; and as teacher E2 mentions the aspect of winning a game motivates the students and encourages their desire to learn. As both Malone (1980) and Dörnyei (2001b) argue, by creating challenges and different difficulty levels and incorporating the chosen digital educational games features in the teaching, students desire to learn and motivation can increase. The perspective of
motivation is often seen as an added feature by adding joy, engagement into school settings and enhancing students' desire to learn (Lindberg, 2016).
The answers from the collected data from the participating teachers in Malmö perception on student motivation display that the teachers, whether they have used digital educational games considerably or not; all have considered the students’ motivation and how it could benefit from using digital educational games. Teacher A1 used digital educational tools because they thought that the students' motivation was affected by the enjoyment of incorporating digital educational tools in the classroom. Teacher B2 responded, in regard to student motivation, that the instant feedback and competitive feedback were some of the greater features that motivated the students. This can be connected to the perspective of auditory learning, where music could create a sense of mood or presence when generating with a progressive rhythm for the students e.g. when the time player runs out of time to answer a question (in for example Kahoot) and thus can motivate students to answer. Furthermore, teachers E2 and F3’s thoughts on the use of digital educational games are very similar to the other
participating teachers, but the aspect of student motivation was important to keep in mind when planning to use digital educational games. Teachers E2 and F3 mention the aspect of competitive motivation during their use of digital educational games. Teacher E2 further explained that the features in the games they have used were important to consider for the students' motivation. Additionally, teacher E2 argued that one of the digital educational games that can motivate students is Kahoot which involves competitive features such as music or sound effects (see section 3.2.2) that can engage the students even more. Teacher F3
continued on the same path as teacher E2 and further commented that fun features a game can have can possibly motivate the students.