Higher Sustainability of Mental Models Acquired from a Digital Game in Comparison with a Live Action Role-playing Game and a Traditional Lecture

Michaela Slussareff, Vít Šisler

Abstract

This article analyses the effectivity of teaching EU law using various educational media. It specifically explores the differences between, and sustainability of, mental models constructed within three various educational environments: (1) a digital game played on PCs, (2) a non-digital role-playing game, and (3) a traditional lecture with discussions. We conducted a laboratory experiment, in which participants (253 high school students, M = 112, F = 141, mean age 16.5) studied EU laws, institutions, and politics in the three above-mentioned environments. We evaluated and compared mental models participants constructed through content analysis of the concept maps they drew immediately after the experiment and others made one month later. Within the analysis, we studied content, architecture, and changes in mental models over time. The resulting data offer unique insight into the process of mental models creation and sustainability thereof within game-based learning; particularly, when using a digital game. Digital game-based learners’ concept maps differed in comparison with those of the educational role-playing and traditional lecture groups; the students tended to keep less altered mental models in their long-term memory: even after the one month period. The results suggest that a digital game-based learning environment could be more successful in mental model retention and for efficacy of future recall; particularly, when dealing with complex phenomena like EU law.

Keywords

Concept Maps; Digital Game-based Learning; Mental Models

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