The requirements of a contemporary workplace include the ability to think critically and creatively in order to solve problems and respond to changes in economic and social conditions. Unfortunately, vocational education often fails to prepare graduates for this environment due to limited resources, low student motivation, or the reliance upon outdated instructional strategies. The use of digital game-based learning (DGBL) for vocational education has been proposed, but has yet to be effectively implemented, particularly in terms of the promotion of higher order thinking skills (HOTS). Data from 68 eleventh grade vocational high school students were evaluated after a quasi-experimental, 27 week intervention. Pretest and posttest results were evaluated by MANCOVA and demonstrated that the experimental group (blended DGBL incorporating integrative HOTS activities) outperformed the comparison group (technology enhanced learning) in terms of creative thinking, critical thinking, problem solving, and academic achievement, with significant improvements on all four measures. While technology-enhanced learning was effective in promoting academic achievement and creative thinking, the DGBL condition was deemed most effective in providing an authentic context for developing employment-related skills and knowledge. Based on these results, a blended approach for DGBL, which incorporates instructor orchestration and scaffolding, provision of learning aids, and the use of collaborative learning, is recommended, particularly for vocational learners. This paper provides examples of a concrete model of DGBL instruction that was verified empirically as successful in significantly improving all three higher order thinking skills, including creative thinking, critical thinking, and problem solving.
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