Digital Board Game Based on the Theory of Variation to Enhance Grammar

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This is a case study on the use of Throw Back Time (TBT), an interactive digital board game aimed at teaching tenses and aspect of grammar via the Mobile-Assisted Language Learning (MALL). The game exclusively designed according to the Theory of Variation (Marton & Booth, 1997), emphasizes that learners understand, experience and think differently on a specific aspect of the world. The investigation of learners’ prior knowledge is necessary before the development of the questions in Throw Back Time (TBT) game as the theory propagates that investigating learners’ prior knowledge of the object of learning is crucial to see how different it is from the teacher’s point of view. The focus of the theory is more on learners’ difficulties in learning and how teaching can be enhanced to optimize learning. To enhance learning, variations in the learning outcome are necessary. The game provides a variety of combinations and structures of grammar to expose learners to different aspects of learning. Four patterns of variation including contrast, separation, generalization, fusion were used to enable the students to generalize the different features of the tenses and their connection with other invariants. The study employed a qualitative content analysis in illuminating the principles of the Theory of Variation (ToV) in the design of the grammar exercises in the game for TESL Foundation Students of UiTM. Hence, the study suggests that the elements in the (ToV) governing the exercises in the game delivers positive outcomes as the learners’ performance in the series of tests improved. They considered the game to be an intriguing practice as learning of grammar used to be a daunting experience. The application of a strategy in using the interactive digital game as part of major research aims at presenting empirical evidence of an innovative way to teach grammar via mobile application.


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