The relationship between the interventions of an educational game and lecture with ninth -grade students as a learning and motivational tool for college awareness
Given the increasing importance of a college degree for access to life opportunity, awareness of and access to information about higher education is more important than ever before. Students from socio-economically disadvantaged populations often lag behind their more affluent counterparts when it comes to college preparation. Students in economically privileged areas are generally encouraged to start thinking about and planning for college as early as middle school, whereas those from socio-economically disadvantaged areas are rarely provided with programs, resources, and curricula that promote the importance of higher education. Efforts to address this imbalance, such as the Upward Bound, Gear Up, and Talent Search programs, have produced positive outcomes but serve only a small percentage of needy populations due to limited budgets.
In light of the strains on public school resources, cost-efficient early interventions that are easy to implement in school curricula are needed to (a) motivate students to believe that college is both viable and beneficial, (b) instill awareness of the college process early enough to enable students to make sound decisions, (c) provide students with information on college financial assistance, and (d) provide the information needed to enable potentially college-bound students to make sound choices throughout their high school years.
This study looked at the relationship between two interventions that disseminated information about college. The first utilized the "Quest for College" early college awareness board game, and the second consisted of a lecture about college; both provided identical content on the college search, application, and financial aid processes. Through a series of assessment surveys, both prior to and following the interventions, the effectiveness of each intervention in stimulating college awareness was determined. The surveys focused primarily on the students' retention of the information presented in each intervention as well as on any subsequent increase or decrease in their motivation to begin the college search process. Ninth-grade students from three public schools in rural, western Berkshire County, Massachusetts participated in the study.
The study revealed the following findings; (1) that either intervention outperformed no intervention in terms of prompting acquisition and retention of information about the college search, application, and financial aid processes; (2) socio-economically disadvantaged participants had a lower overall baseline of knowledge regarding the college search, application, and financial aid processes than did their non-disadvantaged peer participants; (3) socio-economic status had no impact on the overall acquisition and retention of information regarding the college search, application, and financial aid processes provided by either intervention; and (4) all participants had a lower baseline of knowledge regarding the college financial aid processes than on the college search and application processes.