Simulated Travel and Place Location Learning in a Computer Adventure Game

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As numerous surveys attest, place location learning among American school children is inadequate using traditional instructional methods centered on passive map study. This study examined the use of a computerized adventure game to simulate an environmental exploration for fourth and fifth graders. The computer game involved a “treasure hunt”-type search, under subject control, through a simulated environment of thirty “places.” Subjects (N = 120) played individually for forty minutes, while using one of four variations of maps: thirty subjects were given a map with each location named and graphically represented; thirty were given a map with names only; thirty with pictures only and thirty had to play the game without the aid of a map. Subjects were tested for recall of place locations. The main variables examined were type of accompanying map and subject gender. Results showed statistically significant differences among the kinds of maps used. No significant gender differences were found. Subjects in all groups indicated they enjoyed the simulation game experience. Results from a two-week post treatment follow-up test showed high levels of retention for all groups.

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