a study on the efficiency of TTRPG in sucessfully acquiriing the basics in language and math

Chapter I

Introduction

A foreign girl in an American high school, who speaks no English dying to make friends, one day she brings her Dungeons and Dragons dice to school and something beautiful happens; another player tries to talk with her. Starting a new life in a totally different country of which you don’t understand the culture or the language is not an easy task. Luckily, Dungeons and Dragons ameliorated the situation for me. Having people interested in sharing adventures and thus, teaching me the language and the culture made it easier to transition.

Dungeons and Dragons (D&D) is a fantasy role-playing game (RPG) which allows players to immerse and fulfill real-world social needs by interactions during imaginative play. It was created in 1974 by Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson, back then it was the first published social RPG of its kind and it is still today 40 years later a popular game (History of TSR, 2003). Nowadays more than 25 million people around the world have played the game and spent money on D&D equipment and manuals (Waters, 2004). Many famous people are known for playing D&D like Mike Myers, Judy Dench and Robin Willians (Hartinger, 2009).  A number of spin-offs including movies, TV shows, and comics have been made over the years.

Ever since its debut, the game has changed significantly, however, the dynamics have remained largely the same. The person who guides the game is the Dungeon Master (DM) and his/her role is to create the story, enforce the rules and describe the actions. Even though the DM creates the story structure and guides the story, the development and enactment is dependent on the imagination of the players. Players meet in groups of 3-8 individuals and work under a guiding set of rules to accomplish imaginary tasks. Thus D&D works as a form of group related, organized, controlled, and walking fantasy. 

On the surface, D&D could appear to be a very simple game of make-believe. However, the emotions, friend’s hipness and accomplishments experienced in the game are real; thus suggesting that real-world needs are met through communication in socially constructed RPG scenarios.

The idea that needs are met through RPGs is evidenced by the multitude of play-time hours completed by group meetings as well as the bonding and inside jokes, not to mention the retelling of specific adventures. Games like D&D can be tools for research to learn more about small groups, and communication with social communities. Therefore, the goal of this study is to explore the knowledge of other educators and parents of the communication, basic math and socialization benefits that D&D or TTRPG have in education.

Scope of the Topic

This research is meant to answer questions on the efficacy of using Table Top Role Playing Games (TTRPG) in the instruction of basic computational mathematics, Basic English skills, communication skills, and developing group work with kids that may have any developmental or social need in the high school setting. There are many questions yet unanswered related to the benefits of D&D, for example: How can D&D improve language skills? How can D&D improve basic math skills? How can D&D improve socialization skills? How can D&D improve reading skills? How can D&D benefit special needs kids? How does D&D impact student’s creativity?

Reading skills are enhanced in the execution of the game. In some instances, the game master will require a player to read out their adventure or the challenges that lay ahead. This is described in the form of a story and may be linked to a particular challenge carried out by another player within. The other player will also be required to lay down the mission to be conducted and narrate the two’s considerations to proceed successfully. Doing these several times will familiarize the players with reading intrigues that become more interesting when carried out repeatedly.

Tabletop role-playing games can have implications even when used by students with special needs. For instance, blind and deaf students can be coached on a (D&D) prototype version incorporated into braille and signs language. This will be an interesting route to follow because it will become more of a subject than a game. The students first have to understand that they are being taken through a process that will teach them how to participate in a role-playing game. This makes it more enjoyable. When they fully understand the rules, these students with special needs can form bonds of friendship and brotherhood while learning more about each other’s real and imaginary characters.

The study conducted will show the benefits that come along with the use of tabletop role-playing games. Several aspects will be looked into regarding the impacts that students and educators gain as they handle TTRPGs. This means that aspects of importance will be reviewed, and the participants of the study will be required to elaborately state the impacts they can attest to as being inculcated by the use of TTRPGs. Each conclusion drawn will be noted down to generate a proper rationale for deciding how different skillsets are shaped and reshaped through the involvement of role-playing games.  

The problem

From the researcher’s own experience being a student and working with students, when there is no interest in the content being taught, the learning becomes ineffective. Likewise, in terms of checking student understanding, aside from looking at what the student has memorized, it is equally important to make sure that students can apply the information they have learned. To address this issue, the researcher created a website for Dungeons and Dragons (D&D), a role-playing tabletop game, for educators that wish to try a new method of engaging students.

This research will investigate the efficiency of TTRPG in successfully acquiring the basics in the areas of language, math, and group work. How efficient are TTRPG in the development of language, basic math, and teamwork? If TTRPG games are effective in developing language, basic math, and team work, it should be used more often as a learning tool by educators. Are Midwestern teachers and parents aware of D&D’s impact on their children’s developmental skills, and would they like to know more about it?

When gauging the usefulness of a role-playing game, how the gaming interaction occurs is vital in determining its nature. Some characters are aggressive, and that is how the player acts momentarily. Some of them are supernatural yet still interact with human beings. This type of mystery depiction creates an intriguing approach. Intellectual engagement that is created will be one of the indicators of positive approval. 

Depending on the type of approval reflected, whether positive or negative, researchers will make conclusions and recommendations about the necessity of incorporating gaming technology in schoolwork to promote educational development. Two hundred students, 100 tutors, and 50 parents who have had their kids taking a course of (D&D) along with their regular studies will express the level of contention they felt they received regarding the game and the impacts it created. Learning abilities can be assessed in separate sections. Performance scores can be used to check the implications that are present. A control group will also be involved in the study. These will be students who have not incorporated (D&D) or other TTRPGs in their studies. Math scores can be compared to the two categories of students. Alternatively, a mini-test can be conducted on the first phase between students who take role-playing games and those who do not take them at all. Further, the math test scores can be looked into in terms of the speed in which the participant takes place to complete. Similar tests can be performed for reading speeds, and scores noted. 

Significance of the Study

Understanding the effects of TTRPG in the acquisition of language, basic math, and teamwork is fundamental for students’ social and academic development. Understanding how well TTRPG works in the improvement of basic skills may improve student academic performance. This survey helps principals because D&D can be a potential service tool for the school to improve academic performance and create a stronger sense of community among students at school.

A positive overall score, for instance, will indicate that the use of the game has impactful benefits to the learner. The educators will also understand the measures they can enforce to make the game more relevant and realistic. The input of both the students and the educators through a creative approach will bring out the real dynamics of gaming involvement. At the same time, educators will obtain the necessary information concerning their work and their students. If it is noted that math scores are higher for students who have initiated tabletop role-playing games than their counterparts who have not, then it will be easy to conclude that there is a benefit of improving performance. Reading speed scores will show whether there is a major difference regarding the reading abilities of the participants. Since (D&D) as a role-playing game has incorporated the use of storytelling, it can be a hypothesis that students incorporating role-playing games in their regular studies are good at reading. 

Researchers will also strategize on improving the characters through alterations to reflect on the website created for (D&D). The general perceptions and attitudes that students develop toward certain characters will be a portion to be assessed. Students will record the general feeling that they felt a particular character portrayed. The characters can be marked with their generally perceived traits, and the students can state whether they agree or give an alternative character trait that they feel best suits the subject (Daniau, 2016). The character traits emanating will then be grouped to predict a general attitude which the game lays out. 

By being active participants, students will record the level of concentration when they are playing the game. The same students will indicate the concentration they give in the learning of other subjects. Therefore, a comparison will be drawn concerning the benefits created in terms of improving the learner’s level of concentration. Simultaneously, educators will know the recommendations to enforce in the search for relevant techniques of making class sessions more practically involving. 

The effects portrayed in the game are depictions of real-life situations. A character may be hyper and gets excited; some participants may find such a character mysterious while others may find it annoying. TTRPGs stimulate emotions. This is an aspect that the researchers can assess. Notable moments will be selected, and the student will be required to state the magnitude of fulfillment that has been created. This will make the use of role-playing games more realistic and relevant. The students become prepared to handle complicated situations such as the kidnapping of a character by a rival group. They can form coalitions with other entities and fight the oppressor or even go at it alone; all these are scenarios a student is left to identify.      

Assumptions of the Study

  • Participants will provide honest answers
  • Participants know D&D
  • Participants teach or have kids that could benefit from D&D

It can be postulated that role-playing games positively impact students in higher grades compared to students in lower grades. This comparison can be drawn to compare the necessity of the process between the two categories of students. The educators have a role in making students understand the gaming process better. Learners can be allowed to indicate the impacts they feel the involvement of their teachers add. This can be looked into in terms of the fulfillment level created when playing the game alone and the game involvements when the educators are in charge. 

It is assumed that most students have created friendships through the involvement of gaming actions. Students can indicate the number of friends they have made through the game as part of the recreational protocols. Role-playing games are intensely involving and may be quite demanding at times. A collective approach to the difficult situations that are anticipated makes it interlinking between all the participants (Daniau, 2016). All these engagements are necessary for the buildup to favorable socialization. 

It can be hypothesized that female students are more inclined towards role-playing games like Dungeons & Dragons compared to their male counterparts. This can be counterchecked by observing the students’ scores and categorizing them accordingly, based on gender. Results obtained will tell the expectations and whether they have been arrived at. 

Limitations of the study

  • Sample representation not limited to a specific geographical area
  • Sample representation not limited to a specific grade level

The sample used will include students, educators (teachers), and parents. The difference will be the sample sizes that will be taken into consideration as participants. There is also a control group of students, parents, and teachers who have not incorporated tabletop role-playing games as part of their teaching works. Grades of learners who will participate in the assessment interviews will not be inclined to only the high graders. Even the low graders will be included, and results obtained will be compared appropriately. 

The necessity of considering different samples is to collect varied results upon which different sets of conclusions can be drawn. Samples will be analyzed theoretically by assessing the participants’ different levels of fulfillment about a comparative trait dictated by the researchers (Daniau, 2016). Moreover, graphs will be plotted to determine the expected progressions by looking at their performance scores. 

Performance scores obtained will be captured in the form of a three-point meter: very contended, contended, and not contended at all. For each of the scenarios represented, i.e., how a character responded to a rival, how a character acted in defense, the participants will record the level of contentment with that situation in that manner. The use of a shorter gauge of fulfillment will make it easier for the participants to respond and interpret the nature of a particular feeling.  

Operational Definitions

Provide the reader with definitions for words or terms with which the reader is not likely to be familiar.   Assume that the reader does not come from an education background.  Operational definitions do not have to be the authoritative definition of a word.   Rather, they are your working definition of a word for the purposes of this paper.  Typically, students will list at least 7 operational definitions.  You should bullet point these operational definitions and alphabetize them.  This section will look much like a glossary.

Chapter II

Game-based learning has been defined as learning that utilizes games to support teaching and learning. It encourages students to be more self-motivated and self-driven by presenting learning material as something enjoyable through participating in goal-oriented gameplay while giving them a sense of autonomy. While game-based learning has been looked at in the context of video games, implementing games into lessons helps to facilitate engagement. Rather than being an add-on to a lesson, it becomes part of the lesson itself and creates a good balance between fun and learning.

Dungeons and Dragons is a strategic, role-playing tabletop game that gives learners the opportunity to explore and apply learned concepts, increase interest, and facilitate collaboration and communication. The purpose of the developed web resource on D&D in education was to inform and give educators a possible alternative method in assessing the learning transfer as well as further engaging students in a wide range of topics. D&D has been seen as a way to solve problems with friends and classmates in a safe environment, a way to explore life, and a way to make mistakes without carrying dire real-life consequences (Carter, 2011). These features give learners the opportunity to apply learned knowledge and experience acquired in the classroom through the game. The flexible gameplay also lends itself to enhance problem-solving skills, promotes interaction with others, and allows learners to explore a broad arrange of perspectives and educational experiences.

The available literature on the topic is scarce and non-focused on the benefits of D&D to acquiring basic Math, English, and social skills in an academic setting. Stenros, J., & Montola, M. (2011) research and document LARPs the subjectivity of first person audience and co-creation, and he also tries to define what LARP really is. The author assesses these challenges and tries to outline solutions for such proposed challenges. This paper also discusses all the issues of writing about game cultures as an insider and makes a case for normative choices in the game description. In this paper, the writer also examines the use of live action role-playing, or LARP in education. It looks briefly at the difference between “game” and “play”, explains educational LARPS (edu-larp), and examines the problem of terminology for the practice of LARP. Key perspectives and frameworks from around the world are briefly detailed, followed by the few key research findings. Suggestions for future research are detailed. Tips for running and designing educational larps are offered in the best practices section. Finally, three case studies of educational larp are detailed.

Research into the effectiveness of educational games is still ongoing. One area where the research has fallen short is in the use of digital games to teach or digital game based learning. Unfortunately, most administrators, teachers, and parents recoil at the proposal that children can derive educational value out of video games. Still, the research is painting a picture far different from what the challengers of digital game based learning would have you believe. What we are seeing are students who love to play games, and learning comes through this play. “Play, another factor prominent in games but less visible in CAI, has been supported in educational research as a necessary component of motivation (Lardinois, 1989, in Siemer & Angelides, 1995; Rieber, 1996). When people play, they allow for more efficient learning and cognitive material intake than they would in a more traditional setting. Thus, “play has the potential to engage students in the learning process, which may lead to increased learning” (Blatra, 1990). 

Wolf (2000) states that in early adolescence, the time spent using the Internet and video games is higher than in any other present-day age group. Due to age-inappropriate web and gaming content, the impact of new media use on teenagers is a matter of public and scientific concern. Based on current theories on inappropriate media use, this study was conducted that comprised 205 adolescents aged 10–14 years (Md = 13). Individuals were identified who showed clinically relevant problem behavior according to the problem scales of the Youth Self Report (YSR). Online gaming, communicational Internet use, and playing first-person shooters were predictive of externalizing behavior problems (aggression, delinquency). Playing online role-playing games was predictive of internalizing problem behavior (including withdrawal and anxiety). Parent-child communication about Internet activities was negatively related to problem behavior.

Sancho, P., Moreno-Ger,P., Fuentes-Fernandez, R., & Fernandez-Manjon, B. (2009), use a pedagogical approach to adapt a model in order to improve group dynamics, since this has been pointed out as being one of the key features in successful collaborative learning. They use a general framework called NUCLEO in order to apply socio-constructive approaches in higher education. Each student was assigned a role according to his/her learning strategies, this resulted in a combination of complementary and semi-autonomous learning teams that collaborate to solve problems. The framework is started by an online MMORPG game environment, that sets the environment for the problem based learning approach. The paper also presents the results of this research which took place between 2007-2009.

Pivec, M., Dziabenko, O., Schinnerl, I. (2003) discuss the connection between collaborative social context of education with game based learning. Using computer games and games in general for educational reasons, promotes diversity of knowledge presentations and creates opportunities for application of knowledge in a virtual world, thus, facilitating the learning process.

Batista, R.  and Vaz de Carvalho,C (2008) go over the educational changes which the educational system is going through with all technological advances available nowadays. They affirm that learning depends on actions and experimentation, visualization and demonstrating. The authors affirm that RPG games support all the needs for developing such capacities. They created a virtual world with RPG characteristics aiming at teaching history and social relations through playing. Players interpret different scenarios, experiencing adventures, meeting challenges and trying to reach multiple and simultaneous goals in areas of education, entertainment and social integration along the first 150 years of history of this specific city.

Wayne D. Blackmon (1994). In his article a case study of a young man with obsessional, schizoid personality was treated by utilizing the fantasy game Dungeons and Dragons, as a means of releasing his unconscious fantasies. This article shows how the game may serve to free feelings and fears for useful consciousness and how it can also enhance the ego development so as to improve the patient’s ability to interact socially and with comfort.

Mainela, P. Y., Cuason, S. U. (2017), describe the player’s experiences from playing Dungeons and Dragons. Research questions were made to identify which experiences were meaningful, beneficial, and appealing about the game. Through non-random sampling, 60 respondents answered the survey between two months in 2016. A majority of the interviewed were males, 25-34 yrs of age and with at least 1yr of experience. Three main core elements were questioned: creative, emotional, and social experiences. The results of this study show that games such as D&D and TRPG can be used in therapeutic and educational settings making players understand themselves or discover something new about them. Even for regular players, RPGs can be good social and cognitive exercise.

Educators interested in using digital games to teach in the classroom have a few choices they can make to decide the best way to integrate this technology into their teaching routine. “In the first approach, students take on the role of game designers; in building the game, they learn the content” (Van Eck, 2006,). Although this is a very powerful teaching method, simple game design can take quite a while, so with limited classroom learning time as a major concern, this is perhaps not the best choice. Another way to integrate digital games is to take “commercial-off-the-shelf digital” (Van Eck, 2006) games and design instruction that will integrate the game into the curriculum. This might seem like a quick, easy fix but there are really very few commercial games available that can easily work well with a curriculum. If a teacher wanted to take an MMORPG like World of Warcraft and turn it into a teaching tool, aside from the interpersonal, intrapersonal, and linguistic skills, very little could be taught. The last option is time consuming and still not practical—for the teacher or school district to design their own digital learning games to teach their curriculum. Not many teachers are versed in the skills needed to create games that will effectively entertain and teach, leaving the use of commercial games a reluctant best choice (Van Eck, 2006). 

In Annas (1995) study, it is investigated the use of imaginative role-play games to sponsor positive development in young adult moral reasoning. Twelve college students participated in six approximately 4-hour gaming sessions using a customized game system based on Dungeons & DragonsTM (D&D, 1974, 4th ed.). The games contained embedded social/moral dilemmas (e.g., whether to torture a prisoner for information) that participants encountered and had to work through as a group. Significant growth in moral development, as measured with the Defining Issues Test and the Self-Understanding Interview was demonstrated in the gaming groups, but was not replicated in two control groups, who did not participate in the gaming sessions. This suggests that imaginative role-play gaming structures can function as an engaging, interactive “moral training ground,” a medium that promotes moral development, and highlights the difference between antisocial and prosocial violence. 

Curry (2010) considers how to integrate features of MMORPGs into classrooms, much like the Classcraft project, creating, for example, guilds within the classroom or turning assignments into quests. The authors suggest that “educators who can structure their classes based on the socially engaged principles present in these games can encourage students to practice social literacy skills required for today’s world, in addition to creating new interest and engagement in their courses” (p. 253). So not only does using the atmosphere and means present in MMORPGs possibly improve collaboration and engagement, but also may rekindle interest in topics students may have become bored with. 

World of Warcraft has been considered for teaching specific areas of study. Barnett and Archambault (2010) consider the use of MMOs (World of Warcraft being one of them) as a means to teach economic theory, the education of which is, according to the authors, sorely and increasingly needed. Using the economic layer of World of Warcraft (the in-game auction) may teach, for example, the concept of supply and demand when rare items sell for immense amounts of money. While this, in concept, is sound, the authors suggest teachers consider MMOs like World of Warcraft “as they might a television program or sports metaphor—that is, as supplementary tools used to engage students rather than substitutes for instruction” 

Chapter III

Purpose of the study

An abridged version of chapter I

Setting

Survey (100) will be collected from one field site. Participants will be teachers and parents of kids in school. The survey will be done through online survey systems on Facebook. The survey will be composed of 3 demographic questions, 4 survey questions, 7 likert questions and 1 open ended question. Attached to the survey there will be an informed consent for participating teachers and parents. Once data is collected it will be analyzed and compiled in the results of this study.

The survey’s demographic questions will focus on the generalized descriptions that will make the study subtly relevant. This category will require both teachers and parents of the kids to note their employment history, income considerations, and family setup configurations. Being generalized and personal questions, participants will respond to these questions voluntarily. Understanding the family setup will pave the way for researchers to decide whether motivation to engage in the gaming expeditions is promoted from within or emanate from without the family setup.

A participant will be asked whether he or she receives support and motivation from any of their family members. Or does any of their family members engage in tabletop role-playing games? Employment history will enable researchers to estimate whether the length of professional engagements influences the perception toward engaging in role RPGs. This category is rather easy because it is simply quantifiable. A participant will be asked for how long he or she has been employed. The participant will be required to indicate the duration of time that he or she has worked. Participants will also show the average amount of income they receive annually. This will be crucial in determining whether there is a correlation between income for teachers and parents and the indulgence in role-playing gaming.

Survey questions will be direct and to the point. Most preferably, a “yes or no” approach will be used. These questions will focus on the perceived benefits of role-playing games. For example, do you think kids should be encouraged to engage in TTRPGs? Do you think schools have a role to play in the promotion of role-playing games? Investigators will deduce the majority of responses and note the general perception by teachers and parents toward TTRPGs. Likert questions in this pool will be confined to a three-point scale-like earlier described for the ease of assessing the mood and feelings. The Likert items will look into the degree of contentment that the gaming involvements generate among the kids’ teachers and parents engaging in role-playing games in their studies. The open-ended question, on the other hand, will require willing participants to describe, in words, their general opinion toward role-playing games. A condition can state, briefly describe your public perception toward TTRPGs. A smaller group, ten parents and ten teachers of kids who have not yet incorporated TTRPGs, will control the study.  

Data Collection 

(at least 2 pages – Lay out your methods in extremely detailed, step by step details.  This section should be dry, objective and long.   It may describe steps you feel are obvious to the reader; nevertheless, list out your steps anyway.  You should list out not only the steps you will follow to conduct your study but also explain what you will do if you hit a roadblock (e.g. a principal does not give you permission to distribute your survey in a school that you had hoped to utilize for survey distribution)).

I will use survey hero

Data Compilation and Analysis 

(probably ½ page  – Explain how you will use Microsoft Word, Excel, etc. to compile the data and how you think it will look when presented. )

Summary 

of Chapter 3 – probably ½ page

Informed Consent 

  • Purpose and Background

Melissa Adriano with Xavier University is conducting research on the effects of dungeons and dragons in language learning and basic math skills. The purpose of your participation in this research is to help the researcher better understand such affects. You were selected as a possible participant in this study because your opinion as an educator is important.

  • Procedures

If you agree to participate in this research study, you will answer a total of ______ online questions.

  • Risks

There are no risks in participating on the research

  • Confidentiality

The records from this study will be kept as confidential as possible. No individual identities will be used in any reports or publications resulting from the study. All questionnaires will be given codes and stored separately from any names or other direct identification of participants. Research information will be kept in locked files at all times. Only research personnel will have access to the files. 

  • Benefits of participation

There will be no direct benefit to you from participating in this research study. The anticipated benefit of your participation in this study is to understand the mechanisms of social table top gaming in the development of language and basic math skills. 

  • Voluntary participation

Your decision whether or not to participate in this study is voluntary and will not affect your relationship with Xavier University. If you choose to participate in this study, you can withdraw your consent and discontinue participation at any time without prejudice. 

  • Questions

If you have any questions about the study, please contact Melissa Adriano by calling (504) 405 – 6413. You can also contact me by email at melperereka@gmail.com with any questions about the rights of research participants or research related concerns.

CONSENT 

YOU ARE MAKING A DECISION WHETHER OR NOT TO PARTICIPATE IN A RESEARCH STUDY. YOUR SIGNATURE BELOW INDICATES THAT YOU HAVE DECIDED TO PARTICIPATE IN THE STUDY AFTER READING ALL OF THE INFORMATION ABOVE AND YOU UNDERSTAND THE INFORMATION IN THIS FORM, HAVE HAD ANY QUESTIONS ANSWERED AND HAVE RECEIVED A COPY OF THIS FORM FOR YOU TO KEEP. 

Research Participant Signature ________________________________ Date _____________ 

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