EdTech Article Review: Game Base Feedback In College

This article gives the results from some research that was done at the University of Ulster in Northern Ireland. The title of the article is Game-base feedback for education multi-user virtual environments and was authored by Darryl Charles, Therese Charles, Michael McNeill, David Bustard and Michaela Black. The goal of the study was to implement a game based feedback (GBF) system with two different groups of students: 4th year computing students as individuals and 1st year computing students in a group. Then measure whether the GBF helped students become more participatory in their classes and if there was an improvement in their performance as a student. The paper also gave a foundation for building a virtual learning environment for students to use as a part of their coursework. The study was performed on two different groups, results of classroom performance were analyzed quantitatively and there was a survey instrument to provide qualitative data as well. Both the qualitative and the quantitative data supported deploying GBF as a means to help students learn how to participate more and also showed that students who tended to have lower grades were able to increase their grades by a small amount. The article then changed from research mode to more of an explanation of virtual worlds and games and how they can be beneficial to higher education.

The hypothesis that was being tested was, to determine if “feedback techniques inspired by commercial game design can enhance student engagement” (Charles, Charles, McNeill, Bustard, & Black, 2011, p. 642). This hypothesis stemmed from a question about how to help students who are new to college make a successful transition from secondary school. Creating a system of game based feedback allowed the researchers to reward students for doing well in class and also reward them for doing other things necessary for success in college. Students could get points for asking questions in class, doing more work outside of class, attending class, visiting the course LMS, using course discussion boards, and self-test quizzes – all different items that help the overall student be successful.

The research question is not clearly stated and the hypothesis is blended into a paragraph that is discussing how Xbox Live is organized. The paper was organized very differently from most papers that I have read to this point. There was an introduction, but no specific methods section. There was a lot of discussion that was based on game systems and game design, but these discussions did not have a large impact on the actual study. There was a large discussion about how the Xbox Live system worked, this was important because the study was based on the Xbox Live organization. There was no specific methods section, although the methods were discussed. The results discussion was good and seemed to match what the research team had found. Then the paper goes into another foundational/background type of description of how virtual worlds can be used as part of the game based feedback system, even though it wasn’t used in this instance.

The data was analyzed using a mixed methods approach. The quantitative data that is being interpreted was from the grades of the students. This allowed the researcher to compare previous sections of the course being studied with the experimental section. Although there were different students that were being used, they provided information concerning the norms for this particular course. This did give the researchers a baseline of grades to work with as they compared the final grades of the experimental group. The qualitative research also appears to be a good way to understand how the students felt as they moved through this particular program. There was a questionnaire that was given, but no indication as to what type. The answers given by the students allowed the researchers to categorize results by percentage.

There was not a specific methods section, but the study was explained in several different places. Research was conducted on a group of first year college students, in the first semester of a course. These students were given KUDOS points for doing specific tasks (see above). Research was also conducted on 4th year students during the first six weeks of a course to allow for a more controlled setting. In the paper, the professor was more familiar with the older students and there was performance data available from this group.

The conclusions appear to follow with what the researchers found during the course of their experiment. They compared final exam grades from the year before using game based feedback and the year they used the intervention. The mean moved from 58 to 62, with most of the improvement coming on the lower end of the grade scale. They also had data that showed a higher percentage of successful results in a course progression from before game based feedback to after. The qualitative results were given as percentages, but the questions that were answered were not found in the article.

I found the article to be informative about different aspects of gaming. The research was interesting and gave me some ideas that I would like to use or try in our college. They shared a lot of extra information that was helpful, but was not necessary to the research being done. The organization of the article was not very good. Having the research broken down by introduction, research question, methods, analysis, and conclusion would have been very helpful. This article had great information, split into two different parts of the article. If the article could have put those two pieces together, I think it would have been better. I have read some articles from BJET before and this one was organized differently.


Charles, D., Charles, T., McNeill, M., Bustard, D., & Black, M. (2011). Game-based feedback for educational multi-user virtual environments. British Journal of Educational Technology, 42(4), 638-654. doi:10.1111/j.1467-8535.2010.01068.x


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