Digital game-based learning is a popular strategy for engaging students by making learning fun. Actively involving students as designers and producers of digital games may have even greater potential for student empowerment through enhancing concentration and engagement, fostering higher order thinking, and improving learning outcomes. Thus, this study empirically investigated the impact of digital game authoring on students' concentration, critical thinking skills, and academic achievement. A total of 67 students in two seventh-grade classes participated in this 19-week-long experiment, and were divided into an experimental group (32 students designing digital games) and a comparison group (35 students designing Flash animations). The interdisciplinary approach involved integrating biology and computer programming classes. Students in the experimental group designed digital games based upon biology course content, while the comparison group collaboratively produced Flash animations based upon the same course content. The experimental results, using MANCOVA for pretest, posttest, and delayed posttest scores, demonstrate significant improvements in critical thinking skills, and academic achievement, with increased retention of both course content and critical thinking skills observed for the delayed posttest. For concentration, a relative advantage for the experimental group as compared with the comparison group was noted, but did not reach statistical significance. Based on the results of this study, implications for practitioners and researchers are provided, including the integration of programming or computer science with other courses for digital game authoring and the evaluation of other learning outcomes such as creative thinking, problem-solving, and flow.
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