Monday, March 21, 2011

Monday Summary: Riddles and Computer Games (1995)

Yes, this is an older article.  I still kind of, sort of, remember 1995.  Dr. John H. Doolittle published the following article way back then:

Doolittle, John H. “Using Riddles and Interactive Computer Games to teach Problem-Solving Skills.”  Teaching of Psychology.  22.1 (1995):  33-36. 

Doolittle’s main premise is that word tables, interactive video games, and riddles aid in the development of creative and critical thinking.  His focus is on undergraduate college students.  Students learn to think of multiple solutions to problems, instead of locking themselves into only one solution.  Along those lines, students also learn to let go of wrong answers or risk failing the task.  Students are required to think creatively because the expected answers with riddles aren’t always correct.  Flexibility in thoughts and problem solving patterns emerge.

Doolittle also points out something that should be obvious.  Those of us who read or listen to stories read aloud have more developed and active imaginations.  Movies and television can be interesting forms of entertainment but do not provide the kind of cognitive development that comes from an engaged imagination and interactive participation.

Doolittle offers some suggestions for riddles and games.  He also cautions against student frustration, which can halt the developmental process.  He closes with his empirical evidence for the effectiveness of these techniques, which is very preliminary but shows possible promise. 

So, this really is a fascinating article, and I’ll be following his citations and digging deeper for empirical evidence.  I don’t think many researchers take video games seriously as a way to encourage information literacy, creativity and critical thinking skills.  One thing that did bother me a little bit with this article was the fact that nearly half of his eighteen citations were to his own papers, books, and games he’s developed.  I can understand his reasons, but it still bothers me for some reason.  I need to track down his other resources and some more updated findings. 

This article did solidify some wonderful ideas I have for the classroom.  I have a syllabus and schedule emerging from the murky depths of my mind.  Perhaps, I will have to share these ideas with my readers. 

Am I weird or what?  I’m not employed at the moment and I’m still developing courses.  I just need some imaginary students and I’m set.  I wonder if I can get an imaginary paycheck?

Oh, look.  A link to the article!  

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