The program "Ghostbusters" was used to overcome the motivation and interest problems of a group of under-achieving language students from the upper primary area (Yr 7), and to provide the opportunity to develop both their oral and written language skills.
Interest in computers and the movie Ghostbusters combined to provide the stimulation for students who were reluctant to express themselves orally or in writing.
The results were quite stunning with students responding in a very positive manner that whilst quite surprising at the time now makes sense as the learning environment had some critical elements that supported their efforts. These included motivation, collaborative learning and peer support as well as structured task layering and scaffolding learning with technology tools.
All nine students in the programme showed very significant improvement in literacy skills and general capability and school performance. Several students went from “2years behind year level” the lowest possible rating in the school report system at the time to “at year level” in 13 weeks.
The students were grouped into small groups (3-4) and set up in a role playing situation based mainly on the Ghostbusters computer game. The students gave names to themselves and to their 'squad', The squads first read the information sheets and discussed what they were setting out to do. Discussion was encouraged, especially from those who saw the movie.) Any new vocabulary was identified and recorded on word lists to assist in report writing etc. The squads then proceeded to a "briefing" where they were informed of their mission (rules of the game etc.).
The squads then proceeded to organise their equipment. This stage involved spending a set budget on items of equipment that were then used in the computer game. Decisions had to be made as to what to buy and these determined, to a large degree, success in the game. Once the squad had set up its equipment the list was fed into the computer and the squad played the computer game Ghostbusters.
Squads were required to keep a diary of the events that occur in the game. Symbols and stylized writing were used to take notes in the "briefing", At the completion of the game playing session, the squad was required to write a report to be read at the next briefing session.
After all reports were read a discussion of problems, strategies and ideas was held. Then the squads began the same routine at the organisation of equipment stage, keeping the new ideas and strategies in mind.
The students were “withdrawn” from their regular class for literacy support as they had been identified as “under achievers” by testing in the school. There was only one computer to share amongst the 3 groups and so some of the writing, editing and peer review was done in class time, but most of the writing was done outside of school.