Barab, S., Scott, B., Siyahhan, S. Goldstone, R. L., Ingram-Goble, A., Zuiker, S., & Warren, S. (2009). Transformational play as a curricular scaffold: Using videogames to support science education Journal of Science Education and Technology, 18, 305-320.
Drawing on game-design principles and an underlying situated theoretical perspective, we developed and researched a 3D game-based curriculum designed to teach water quality concepts. We compared undergraduate student dyads assigned randomly to four different instructional design conditions where the content had increasingly level of contextualization: (a) expository textbook condition, (b) simplistic framing condition, (c) immersive world condition, and a (d) single-user immersive world condition. Results indicated that the 3D-dyad and 3D-single user conditions performed significantly better than the electronic textbook group on standardized items. The immersive-world dyad condition also performed significantly better than either the expository textbook or the descriptive framing condition on a performance-based transfer task, and performed significantly better than the expository textbook condition on standardized test items. Implications for science education, and consistent with the goals of this special issue, are that immersive game-based learning environments provide a powerful new form of curriculum for teaching and learning science.