S6-GAM2-3 - Computational games in STEM courses: a systematic review of the literature

3. Research Full Paper
Priscila Silva Neves Lima1 , Leônidas de Oliveira Brandão2, Laira Almas2, João Lucas dos Santos Oliveira1, Anarosa Alves Franco Brandão3
1 Federal University of Goiás
2 Institute of Mathematics and Statistics - University of São Paulo
3 Computer Engineering and Digital Systems Department - Escola Politécnica da Universidade de São Paulo

This full paper presents the main results of a systematic review of the literature about the use of
computer games in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) courses. The concept of lifelong
learning has often been encouraged in literature however, it also reports students facing difficulties in exact
sciences since elementary school: a major challenge to overcome.
Among the reasons for such difficulties are: demotivation, disinterest, learning difficulties, and even the use of outdated teaching-learning methods.
In an attempt to improve the relation between students and exact sciences, schools are expanding the use of information
technologies to offer the students interactive environments in order to enrich their classes.
In this context, characteristics of digital games (DG) appear as a didactic resource that can benefit the students’ learning process.
If properly used, DG can stimulate memory, creativity, socialization, and also incite curiosity.
Due to the ease young students have with games and considering the aforementioned benefits, many institutions have been investing in
digital games (or environments with some of their characteristics).
However, these games can generate compulsive behaviors (WHO classified such disorders in 2018) and it is worth noticing
that many articles reporting the use of games in education focus mainly on its acceptance instead of its teaching capabilities.
To guide this systematic review, the following research questions were used:
1) In higher education, which subarea of knowledge is most impacted by the use of computer games?
2) What are the techniques used to measure the effectiveness of the game?
3) What are the learning theories that support the use of digital games in STEM courses?
4) What game dynamics are the most often used? and
5) What are the most presented arguments for using games?
The protocol used to develop this systematic review divided the process into three stages: Planning, Conducting, and Reporting.
In this article we report the main findings, such as that mathematics is the subarea with the highest concentration of digital games.
It is also observed that different guiding theories appear, such as those with a constructivist tendency.
Among the arguments for using games, stand out: the gain in cognitive skills, the possibility of using simulations and the ease in
understanding complex themes.
The methods of didactic-pedagogical evaluation mostly used are questionnaires of acceptance or the student’s perception.
This review highlights the potential of digital games to promote learning.
Nevertheless, these games should not be focused solely on their ludic aspect, as they have a different purpose from regular games.
Active methodologies mediated by ICT can make classes more interesting as students actively participate in the construction of their learning.
In addition, digital games can improve logical reasoning and possibly awaken students' interest in STEM.