The Affordances of Minecraft Education as a Game-Based Learning Tool for Atomic Structure in Junior High School Science Education

Mahlatse Nkadimeng, Piet Ankiewicz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Video games are a medium most students are familiar with; thus, they can be used as educational tools to meet the needs of twenty-first-century students. Given the popularity of video games with teenagers, they can be incorporated as educational tools in the science classroom. However, the affordances of using Minecraft Education (Minecraft Edu)—as a game-based learning (GBL) tool—for learning atomic structure in junior high school have not been researched. The purpose of this article was to explore the affordances of Minecraft Edu for learning atomic structure in junior high school by exploring students’ experiences of using Minecraft Edu as a learning tool. The main research question was: what are the affordances of Minecraft Edu for learning atomic structure in junior high school? A qualitative research approach underpinned by an interpretivist paradigm was adopted for this research since the purpose of this research was to explore students’ experiences. The research was conducted with a class of 20 grade 8 students who were observed and interviewed at a South African well-resourced private school. An intervention aligned with the national curriculum for state schools was designed and implemented. It was underpinned by GBL as well as social, cognitive and radical constructivist perspectives. Methodological and source triangulation were used to ensure trustworthiness. Merriam's (Qualitative research: A guide to design and implementation, Jossey-Bass, 2009) constant comparative method was used to analyse data. Findings indicated that students were motivated, interested and challenged to think critically while collaborating and that the abstractness of atomic structure was alleviated. Although not all the features of the crafting stations of Minecraft Edu might promote active, deep learning of abstract concepts, it is evident that it holds some affordances for making atomic structure less abstract for students. It needs to be further investigated which features of the crafting stations of Minecraft Edu are conducive to deep learning, as well as the extent to which they are. Future research could also focus on designing an online Minecraft-based intervention as opposed to a face-to-face intervention as well as using Minecraft Edu in learning other curriculum topics across all grades and diverse learning contexts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)605-620
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Science Education and Technology
Volume31
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2022

Keywords

  • Atomic structure
  • Constructivism
  • Educational games
  • Game-based learning
  • Minecraft Edu

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • General Engineering

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