Investigating the Deployment of Serious Games in Secondary Education: A Pilot Study Inspired by Design-Based Research

  • Jeffrey EarpEmail author
  • Chiara Eva Catalano
  • Michela Mortara
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 9221)


This paper describes a pilot deployment in lower secondary school of a serious game dedicated to the learning of history. The primary aim of the initiative was to investigate the integration of Serious Games-based learning environments in the school study of humanities subjects. The pilot was carried out as part of investigations that researchers in the Games and Learning Alliance (GALA) Network of Excellence are conducting into the adoption and deployment of Serious Games (SG) in formal learning contexts. In this regard, the paper outlines the sequence of deployed pilot activities, which was shaped with the intention of responding to the needs of all the participants involved – researchers, educators and learners. This approach is inspired by the principles of design-based research, as illustrated in the strategies adopted both for piloting activities and data gathering. The paper reports the outcome of these and considers some implications of the adopted approach both for SG deployment in formal education and for implementation of experimental SG pilots of this kind.


Serious games Game-Based learning Experimental pilot Design-Based research 



The work reported in this paper has been performed as part of research activities conducted within the Game and Learning Alliance (GALA) Network of Excellence, co-funded by the EU under the Seventh Framework Programme.


  1. 1.
    de Freitas, S., Ott, M., Popescu, M.M., Stanescu, I. (eds.): New Pedagogical Approaches in Game Enhanced Learning: Curriculum Integration. IGI Global, Hershey (2013)Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Arnab, S., Berta, R., de Freitas, S., Earp, J., Popescu, M., Romero, M., Stanescu, I., Usart, M.: Serious games in formal education: discussing some critical aspects. In: Gouscos, D., Meimaris, M. (eds.) Proceedings of 5th European Conference on Game-Based Learning, pp. 486–493. Academic Publ. Ltd, Reading (2011)Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Caponetto, I., Earp, J., Ott, M.: Aspects of the integration of games into educational processes. Int. J. Knowl. Soc. Res. 4(3), 11–21 (2013)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Design-Based Research Collective: Design-based research: an emerging paradigm for educational inquiry. Educ. Researcher 32(1), 5–8 (2003)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Cobb, P., Confrey, J., diSessa, A., Lehrer, R., Schauble, L.: Design experiments in educational research. Educ. Researcher 32(1), 9–13 (2003)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Barab, S., Squire, K.: Design-based research: putting a stake in the ground. J. learn. Sci. 13(1), 1–14 (2004)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Hoadley, C.: Methodological Alignment in Design-Based Research. Educ. Psychol. 39(4), 203–212 (2004). doi: 10.1207/s15326985ep3904_2. ISSN 0046–1520CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Field, A., Hole, G.: How to design and report experiments. Sage Publications, London (2003)Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Baalsrud Hauge, J., Boyle, E., Mayer, I., Nadolski, R., Riedel, J.C.K.H., Moreno-Ger, P., Bellotti, F., Lim, T., Ritchie, J.M.: Study design and data gathering guide for serious games’ evaluation. In: Connolly, T.M., Hainey, T., Boyle, E., Baxter, G., Moreno-Ger, P. (eds.) Psychology, Pedagogy, and Assessment in Serious Games, pp. 394–419. IGI Global, Hershey (2014). doi: 10.4018/978-1-4666-4773-2.ch018 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Bellotti, F., Kapralos, B., Lee, K., Moreno-Ger, P., Berta, R.: Assessment in and of serious games: an overview. Hindawi Adv. Hum. Comput. Interact. 2013, 11 (2013). doi: 10.1155/2013/136864 Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Ney M., Emin V., Earp J. Paving the Way to Game Based Learning: A Question Matrix for Teacher Reflection. In: Proceedings of 4th International Conference on Games and Virtual Worlds for Serious Applications (VS-GAMES 2012), Genoa, Italy. Elsevier Procedia (2012)Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Earp, J., Ott, M., Pozzi, F.: Facilitating educators’ knowledge sharing with dedicated information systems. Comput. Hum. Behav. 29(2), 445–455 (2013)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Jonassen, D.H., Reeves, T.C., Hong, N., Harvey, D., Peters, K.: Concept mapping as cognitive learning and assessment tools. J. Interact. Learn. Res. 8, 289–308 (1997)Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Heinze-Fry, J.A., Novak, J.: Concept mapping brings long-term movement toward meaningful learning. Sci. Educ. 74(4), 461–472 (1990). doi: 10.1002/sce.3730740406 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    McClure, J.R., Sonak, B., Suen, H.K.: Concept map assessment of classroom learning: Reliability, validity, and logistical practicality. J. Res. Sci. Teach. 36(4), 475–492 (1999)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Woolfson, L.M.: Educational Psychology: the Impact of Psychological Research on Education. Prentice Hall, Pearson Education, London (2011)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jeffrey Earp
    • 1
    Email author
  • Chiara Eva Catalano
    • 2
  • Michela Mortara
    • 2
  1. 1.Istituto per le Tecnologie DidatticheGenoaItaly
  2. 2.Istituto di Matematica Applicata e Tecnologie InformaticheGenoaItaly

Personalised recommendations