Supporting vocabulary growth of high school students: An analysis of the potential of a mobile learning device and gaming app

Redd, Jennifer
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The purpose of this dissertation was to explore the educational benefits of using an app on a mobile device (i.e. iPod Touch) to aid in the process of high school students' learning. The emphasis of this study explored the possibilities of learning vocabulary using a mobile device in an informal environment. Mobile devices embrace and encourage ubiquitous learning through their ease of portability and access to various activities that can allow for learning to occur. Learning theories and cognitive techniques were explored as a means of providing a mobile educational experience that is individualized, motivational, and beneficial for transfer to later word learning and reading comprehension.

Following a pre-test/post-test design, twenty-five high school students participated in this study by using a mobile device and vocabulary gaming app over the course of three weeks. The use of a game as an instructional tool offered a portable way for students to engage with content. The amount of vocabulary mastered after playing the app on the mobile device was examined in relation to the pre-test and post-test scores. The results via a paired sample t-test indicated there was no significant difference in performance between the tests, although the amount of time in using the app was important. The implications that emerged through a regression involved the direct correlation with the pre-test score as a predictor for the post-test score as well as the score achieved within the app as a predictor for the post-test score. The techniques used to play the app indicated that participants called upon the process of elimination and roots/word parts as tools to aid in the mastery of the vocabulary words. Participants offered suggestions related to the design characteristics of the app and how this affected the overall experience.

These findings pointed to the potential for incorporating a gaming application on a mobile device as an instructional tool for vocabulary development. Mobile devices provided a way of teaching today's high school students by allowing for learning to take place in an informal, individualized environment. This study indicated how the broadening of one's vocabulary might occur through the use of a mobile device and a gaming application.

high school students, informal learning, mobile devices, vocabulary