The minecraft project: predictors for academic success and 21st century skills gamers are learning through video game experiences
Hewett, Katherine Joan Evelyn
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Video games are more than just entertainment. In fact, video games like Minecraft develop “Four Cs” skills in young gamers. These 21st century skills include critical thinking, creativity, communication, and collaboration (National Education Association, 2010) and are considered essential skills for future employment by workforce executives (Sardone & Delvin-Scherer, 2010). This study explores predictors of academic success and the 21st century skills gamers are learning through video game experiences. This sequential mixed model study analyzed descriptive data to explore the video game experiences of 3D Modeling and Animation students enrolled at a South Texas area high school. The study analyzed data collected from 66 quantitative subjects and 4 qualitative participants. Three classes engaged in four weeks of gameplay to complete a modeling project in Minecraft. Data was collected during both phases of the project study through survey and case study methods. The findings revealed that the Group Project Grades were heavily skewed indicating a significance that prior gaming experience affected the students’ academic performance. The significance was supported by the unexpected high frequency of perfect scores (65%) and the high concentration of experienced gamers. Over half (54%) reported to have played video games for over 10 years. It was also noted that gender was statistically significant with Class Rank. Females had higher class ranks overall then the males. The qualitative data analysis led to the development of five major findings: 1.) The Strategist: Accomplishing the Mission, 2.) The Creator: The Art of Gameplay, 3.) The Communicator: Building Relationships and Communities, 4.) The Hero: To Be the Hero of a Great Adventure, and 5.) I am an “Elite”: A Digital Native. These major findings represent trends of the gaming phenomenon, gamer traits, and 21st century skills learned through playing video games. The findings for this study have implications on teachers’ perspectives and attitudes toward video game integration. Recommendations for future research include a longitudinal study with the four participants to provide a better understanding of applied 21st century skills over time, a content analysis of various video games, and a mixed model study exploring the reading habits, literacy skills, and genre interests of gamers.