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Hero.coli : a video game empowering stealth learning of synthetic biology : a continuous analytics-driven game design approach

Abstract : Video games have demonstrated their value as a hobby and as a pedagogic tool, both in academic and professional fields. However, learning video games have to integrate pedagogical strategies and be fine-tuned to be efficient and adopted. Synthetic biology is an emerging field focusing on engineering living systems to achieve controlled functions. It shares concepts with crafting and engineering games. We designed the first synthetic biology crafting game, named Hero.Coli, for popularization and learning. In order to engage both forced and voluntary users, ie students and citizens, our main pedagogical strategy is stealth learning. This means creating an educational game with no interruption in the experience - due to explicit learning or assessment phases -, mimicking successful mainstream games. I used embedded analytics to continuously refine this new pedagogical tool, by spotting the bottlenecks and issues in level design, the eventual misconceptions revealed in posttests, and the learning successes. I validated the usefulness of the game by comparing pre- and posttests of players (n=89). I found an average of 32 percentage point increase between pretest and posttest correct answer rate per question. The higher achievements stemmed mainly from higher-order thinking questions as compared to lexical questions. This is in line with our expectation from the chosen stealth learning strategy, which prioritizes function - game mechanics - over lexicon. I then correlated different user tracking parameters to their posttest scores. Lastly, by analyzing surveys, we also revealed that interest in biology is more critical than education to explain the variance in learning. These results could lead to future adaptive learning improvements including user-tailored feedbacks, in-game or in-class. Overall, the Hero.coli framework facilitates future implementations of game-based learning solutions by exemplifying a methodological approach of game development: design, tracking and analytics, quick iteration and testing, and final evaluation.
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Raphaël Goujet. Hero.coli : a video game empowering stealth learning of synthetic biology : a continuous analytics-driven game design approach. Education. Université Sorbonne Paris Cité, 2018. English. ⟨NNT : 2018USPCB175⟩. ⟨tel-02524484⟩

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