What research questions the project addresses, aims & themes
Using touch screens (smartphones and tablets) is the most popular play activity amongst children of diverse socioeconomic backgrounds. However, their impact on learning and inclusion is relatively underexplored. The aim of this study is to shed light in this area by examining the impact touch screen game applications have on science learning and engagement especially for children from disadvantaged backgrounds (ie, children who face learning difficulties).
The specific research objectives of this study are to:
- Examine how touch screen mobile game applications are used by preschoolers and how usage patterns change over time.
- Examine the learning effectiveness of the use of touch screen mobile game applications on scientific thinking.
- Identify how preschoolers' previous subject ‘theories’ about cause and effect relationships mediate scientific thinking.
- Identify the implications of the proposed intervention for inclusive practice in early years education.
How the research questions are addressed by the project (methodology and activity/environment)
A comparative study with 100 preschoolers is under preparation. Preschoolers will be asked to play the game Angry birds. Data will be collected through pre-post questionnaires, semi-structured interviews, observation check-lists and video-recording of actual gameplay.
Findings and outputs
The process of data collection is planned to begin in December 2015 and last for three months. A systematic literature review around the use of mobile devices and preschoolers has been produced and submitted for publication.
Outcomes from this study will contribute to our understanding of how innovative technologies in particular mobile games can support early year pedagogy and inclusion of all in science learning. Research outputs are expected to inform inclusive practice in early years. A briefing report will be prepared and shared with early years educational policy makers detailing how specific mobile games might be used in classroom to support participation of all learners including children from disadvantaged backgrounds, due to their engaging qualities and their popularity amongst youngsters, as well as early years scientific thinking. This report will be informed by three seminars/workshops with early years teachers where the outcomes of the study will be disseminated and ways of integrating games in the classroom will be identified.
Dr Christothea Herodotou (PI)