Winners and Learners: Classroom Discourse Surrounding Educational Game-Play

246 Pages Posted: 12 Feb 2014

See all articles by Dr. Shanahan

Dr. Shanahan

Christopher Newport University

Date Written: December 1, 2012


Teacher mediation has been shown to be a key factor in the successful implementation of educational games, particularly with respect to lower-performing students. There has been little previous research, however, that has described teacher mediation during educational game-play. This qualitative study used discourse analysis methods to examine classroom interaction during educational game-play, observing the classroom-conversation between teachers and differentiated student groups in four third-grade classrooms. Results from this study revealed that discourse in the educational gaming context was overwhelming focused on the procedural aspects of game-play, rather than on the learning objectives of the game. This “procedural pull” of the gaming context was pervasive and appeared to result from several factors, including the level of procedure inherent in the game itself, teachers’ varying instructional approaches, and from the students themselves. Results from this study also demonstrated that, contrary to previous findings in the teacher expectations literature, the lowest-performing student groups received a disproportionate amount of teacher time, attention, and content support in each of the classrooms. However, the additional teacher time and attention paid to these lowest-performing student groups appeared to come at the expense of other relatively lower-performing groups in the classes. The results of this study increase our understanding of how teachers implement educational games and may have relevance for other educational games and game-playing contexts.

Keywords: Education Games, Learning Games, Classroom Discourse, Teacher Expectations, Gaming, Gameplay, Differentiation, Gifted Education, Digital Games, Board Games, Ludic, Teaching, Computer Games, Videogame, education, STEM

Suggested Citation

Shanahan, Kristen, Winners and Learners: Classroom Discourse Surrounding Educational Game-Play (December 1, 2012). Available at SSRN: or

Kristen Shanahan (Contact Author)

Christopher Newport University ( email )

Luter Hall, Suite 151
Newport News, VA 23606
United States

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