Didatic Games in Understanding How High School Students Learn Chemistry

The Role of Didactic Games in Understanding How High School Students Learn Chemistry

José Ayron Lira dos Anjos (UFPE/ CAA/ NFD)
João Roberto Ratis Tenório da Silva (UFPE/ CAA/ NFD) 
Ana Paula Freitas da Silva (UFPE/ CAA/ NFD) 
Ricardo Lima Guimarães (UFPE/ CAA/ NICEN)



According to the IDEB (Índice de Desenvolvimento da Educação Básica), P-12 students in the city of Caruaru, Pernambuco, Brazil are underperforming academically. Recognizing how lecturing—long deemed ineffective in the teaching of science (Wyckoff, 2001)—tends to be the primary mode of teaching, and seeking to address the gap between students’ learning potential and their academic achievement, in this research study we seek to learn how the use of didactic games (analog and/or digital) in the classroom may be a factor of change in this scenario as students engage in learning interactively. We build on a body of research that shows that when students are engaged in didactic games, important elements that support and bolster learning are catalyzed—e.g., social interactions mediated by language and other sign systems (Vygotsky, 1988). Extant research shows that social interactions can stimulate students to think about their own mis/understandings, cultivating a process whereby they engage in learning from their mistakes. In this study, we consider that the overcoming of mistakes can occur through awareness (Leontiev, 1978). It is within this context that we seek to investigate: 

  • What happens to teaching approaches and student learning when didactic games are employed in the high school chemistry classroom? Does it vary across settings? Across games? If so, how? 
  • In what ways (if any) are high school students learning chemistry concepts from interacting with their own mistakes in the process of playing didactic games and awareness? Does it vary across settings? Across games? If so, how? 

Methodologically, we will investigate three focal groups in three schools situated in Caruaru, Brazil. Data collected will include: assessment of student learning; video recordings and subsequent transcriptions of the learning episodes in which students will be playing each game; and, video recording of students and teachers explaining concepts addressed by the games using the think-aloud method. For data analysis, we plan to employ criteria established by the theories adopted, engaging discourse analysis and microgenetic analysis. In our analysis, we will identify mental states terms that represent an appropriation of the scientific language in three moments: 1) during the interactions pertaining to gaming, especially at the moments that they will think about their own mistakes; 2) in assessments of student learning; and, 3) in the think-alouds. We aim to engage the school community, involving teachers and administrators in the entire research process, from preparation to planning and intervention. In addition to learning from students, we aim to learn from teachers and administrators as they share and co-construct knowledge on the use of games within and across chemistry classrooms.

VIdeo: ENG Jose and Joao

Video: Port José Airon e João

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