The introduction of computer games as positive reinforcers into CAL courseware packages must be viewed as educationally essential, especially for those pupils who are not particularly motivated to use computers in the learning process. It has become increasingly clear that in elementary schools many pupils who enjoy playing computer games do not have the same motivation to utilise IT when learning in the classroom. Thus computer games can be used as positive reinforcers if introduced into computer based courseware and provide pupils with an enjoyable intermission during the CAL process. In the Israeli elementary schools where computer games have been systematically introduced into computer based courseware packages (those produced by the Semel software house), the motivational level of pupils has increased considerably and has enabled teachers to provide effective IT teaching and learning methods that streamline the educational process. Obviously, IT will not replace teachers but complement them. Computer games appear to be one of the more successful methods that, if incorporated in CAL, add to the teachers' ability to motivate pupils to engage in a more enjoyable and efficient learning process.
Note: The Gush Etzion Regional Elementary School, situated in the Jerusalem district, is one of the schools that makes extensive use of computer games in CAL courseware. The observations in this "success story" are based on the experiences observed at this particular school.
Discipline, subject : informatique
Public : primaire
Katz, Yaacov, J.
School of Education, Bar-Ilan University
Tel : 972 3 5318444
Fax : 972 3 5353319
Pédagogie, pedagogy : Motivation is a major issue interrelated with successful end-use of information technology by elementary school pupils. Research studies have indicated that, while most pupils at the elementary school level enjoy playing computer games, fewer pupils actually enjoy utilising computers for Computer Assisted Learning (CAL), irrespective of the type of software offered. Thus it is important to introduce positive motivating factors into the CAL system so as to promote more efficient and effective use of worthwhile computer courseware that has the potential of positively contributing to the learning process.
Apprentissage, learning : It is important to motivate the pupils to utilise computer based courseware through the introduction of intermittent reinforcements in the form of popular educational games at different intervals in the CAL process. Thus the pupil who may not - a priori - be positive towards the use of IT in the learning process, may well enjoy the computer games introduced into the courseware and thus agree to CAL in order to enjoy the games. This procedure could well be described as "conditioning through positive reinforcement" at different intervals in the learning process.
Enseignement, teaching : Teachers who wish to use IT in the instructional process must be sure that the pupils are receptive of the method and content to be studied. One of the trusted methods of motivating pupils to learn is that of the use of positive reinforcements throughout the teaching process, thereby motivating the pupils to learn what is being taught in order to attain positive reinforcement.
Technique : Universally popular computer games are to be installed into the courseware at suitable intervals so as to serve as positive reinforcers. The games must on the one hand be popular with the pupils and have the necessary content matter to motivate the pupils to play, but on the other hand must be subordinate in importance to the CAL courseware. In other words, the games must remain a means and not become an end in themselves.
Société, society : The pupils must attain satisfaction from studying the computer based courseware. If the computer games which serve as motivators are better played in groups then the courseware must be programmed in order to be best learnt in groups. Thus social feedback and mutual enjoyment contribute to the degree of motivation provided by the courseware and the computer games utilised in the courseware.
Culture : Children of different socioeconomic backgrounds and ethnic groups can be motivated to learn through the medium of CAL if computer games that are usually universally popular with pupils are incorporated into the CAL package. Thus pupils placed in socially and culturally heterogeneous classrooms are able to utilise IT in the learning process with computer games serving as the common motivating factor for all.
Institution : The schools must decide which games to incorporate into the computer based courseware programs they wish to use for CAL. The games must be incorporated in the courseware packages either by the software producers at source according to specifications of schools, or by skilled programmers employed by schools to insert computer games into the courseware packages in accordance with their specific needs.
Logistique : A preliminary survey of universally popular games must be made before they are introduced into the computer based courseware. Only games that are considered as potentially certain to motivate pupils to successfully learn through the medium of CAL should be incorporated in the courseware packages as positive reinforcers.
Remarques, remarks : Despite financial considerations, computers games which serve as positive reinforcers in CAL packages should be seriously viewed as being an integral part of computer based couseware and therefore must be budgeted for when preparing CAL packages for elementary school pupils.