Research Agenda Guidance for Educational Games & Simulations

Dede, C. (2011). Developing a research agenda for educational games and simulations. Computer games and instruction, pp. 233-250. Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing.


This article proposes five assumptions that all research agendas for educational games and simulations should be based on. These assumptions include usable knowledge, collective research, what works, treatment effects, and scalability. Each assumption is presented in detail for clarity. The author states these are only a suggestion and meant for discussion and revision if wanted.

The assumptions the author presented provide a strong base for research agendas. The first assumption of usable knowledge suggests that research should produce results that can actually be applied. He discusses how research should at the very least indicate any limitations that prevent applicable results. The author argues that collective research is needed to thoroughly investigate problems, using researches specializing in the methods chosen to best address the research questions. The third assumption is that research agendas should center on what works, when, and for whom. The author presents a powerful analogy of human activities to show that not all learning and learners are the same. Research should indicate the specific contexts the study focused on to gain best usable knowledge. Treatment effects are discussed in-depth as well. The author proposes that the research agenda should go beyond summative evaluations. He offers a variety of errors that are made in research causing results to indicate “no significant difference.” These errors threaten the generalizability of the findings. The final assumptions presented is scalability. This assumption indicates the importance of the products the research is focused on to be adapted on a wide scale of contexts.

As an educator, I feel strongly that the third assumption, “what works”, is the most crucial of these. Not all learners or subject areas are the same. Educational games can certainly be beneficial, but they are not for all learners or educational environments. Research that clearly centers on specific contexts of when and for whom, will help make the results more usable.




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