Limitations of the Study
The study conducted encountered several limitations:
♦ Student population: The students in the sample school perform to higher curriculum Standards than those in public schools. The nature of the curriculum is more rigorous and in-depth, challenging teachers to implement the school’s curriculum within the confines of a standard school year.
♦ Sample teachers: The teachers in the sample were generally of a mindset that implied video games were an antithesis for literary learning. While some were older, and remember a time where the genre was nonexistent, others felt the genre was a contributing factor to the digital culture war between them and their students.
♦ Lack of student participation: The present researcher found that teachers in the sample reported student-made references to video games in homework assignments. Without any direct student-based polling or interaction, t was difficult to establish how students would perform with regard to video game-based lessons.
Upon reviewing the relevant literature and present survey data, the present researcher feels there is potential for video game-related media to become a viable tool for instruction in secondary English classrooms. In-service teachers report feeling they have little to no time to plan for implementation due to the constraints of the present curriculum.
During informal discussions with in-service teachers across differing content areas, the cultural gap between digital natives and digital immigrants was frequently referenced. Teachers cited the gap on the part of the students’ non-scholastic hobbies. While no students were included in the sample, in-class observations revealed a deeper familiarity and reliance upon technology than most teachers.
Another contributing factor to the gap between student achievement and curriculum was evident in classroom responses to the texts being studied. One group of observed students participated more eagerly during a class connecting a more modern work of fiction to Internet research. When an assessment project was assigned, a greater number of students submitted the assignment and scored higher than the previous two graded assignments. The present researcher believes this was influenced by the connection between classroom discussion and students’ experiences as digital natives.
Implications for Further Practice
In the field, the general rule for English teachers holds that they constantly read and evaluate new texts with which to teach students. In this manner, curriculum is both maintained and improved upon in the classroom. As the relevant literature and the present survey results show, few teachers are reading texts from video game franchises or incorporating related visual media in their lessons.
In an effort to better implement video game-based learning in the classroom environment, English teachers must first overcome the stigma associated with the genre in terms of literacy in contemporary society. To accomplish this, they must be open to the concept of approaching the medium as a potential tool rather than an anathema to literary study. While the teachers of the sample said they used modern resources in their lessons, some added the caveat of doing so when it was appropriate. In order for video games and related media to be used appropriately, educators in the field must have an understanding of the lore of a particular series and then proceed to screen the desired media for an appropriate content link.
Studies similar to Jolley (2008) would be ideal for replication, as the results showed teacher familiarity with content and scaffolding techniques to transition between video game-related materials and traditional literature. Schools with high performing students, such as the sample institution, could modify the scaffolding to omit more visual media and work directly with a franchised novel, then move onto other literary works found in the school curriculum.
Implications for Further Research
The body of literature relating visual media to teaching in the secondary English classroom is static. At the time of the present survey, a year had elapsed since the most recent publication of relevant literature. More in-service educators should be familiarized with the presented techniques and research in order to both practice and provide research.
In addition, more teachers who are attempting to bridge the gap between teachers and students in terms of digital literacy should publish their techniques and results, positive and negative, as a resource for other instructors.