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Making Change: Does Game Education Improve Youths’ Learning Skill Sets?

1 January 2016


Proponents of the Maker Movement encourage young people to actively engage in the process of learning using constructionist principles. A local nonprofit organization, Pixel Arts, creates model makerspaces at local schools and in local libraries. Pixel Arts particularly aims to nurture at-risk youths’ non-cognitive learning skills. The purpose of this research is to evaluate the effectiveness of one Pixel Arts program. Given their unique curricular structure, it was hypothesized that Pixel Arts’ nine-week after-school camp would more likely enhance students’ self-efficacy, motivation, and metacognition than a comparable after-school program. In total, forty-two middle school students completed pre-test surveys; twenty-seven middle school students completed post-test surveys. Between-subjects and within-subjects comparisons showed no changes in non-cognitive learning skills. However, post-hoc analyses revealed while Pixel Arts students with autonomous reasons for joining scored almost significantly higher on pre-test self-efficacy and metacognition, camp-goers with controlled reasons for joining caught-up to their intrinsically-inclined peers at post-test. Altogether, qualitative responses indicated youth are meeting Pixel Art’s directives by translating their love of gaming into opportunities for cultivating STEM educational initiatives. Future research should continue improving measures of students’ reasons for joining, as well as case studies and statistical norms.


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