The Effective Integration of Digital Games and Learning Content

Habgood, Matthew Peter Jacob (2007) The Effective Integration of Digital Games and Learning Content. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.



This thesis is concerned with how the coveted user-engagement of digital games can be usefully harnessed for educational goals. Educational software has traditionally used gaming elements as a separate reward for completing learning content. The early "edutainment" sector became synonymous with this cursory "chocolate-covered broccoli" approach (Bruckman, 1999): tagging games on to learning content in order to make it more palatable. However, such methods have often proved ineffective (Kerawalla & Crook, 2005; Trushell, Burrell, & Maitland, 2001) and have been criticised for combining the worst elements of both games and education (Papert, 1998) as well as for following extrinsically motivating design models (Lepper, 1985; Parker & Lepper, 1992).

This thesis provides a theoretical and empirical exploration of game designs that follow a more integrated approach. Five studies are described which detail the development and evaluation of a new theory for creating intrinsic integration based on integrating learning content with the game mechanics of a game. This includes the development of Zombie Division: a game that teaches mathematics to children through swordplay with skeletal opponents. Two experimental studies examine the motivational differences between integrated and non-integrated versions of Zombie Division by measuring time-on-task. Two more examine the educational effectiveness of integrated and non-integrated versions by measuring learning gains for a fixed amount of time-on-task. Statistically significant results are found which suggest that the integrated version is motivationally and educationally more effective than the extrinsic equivalent. Full results and implications are discussed.

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Supervisors:Ainsworth, Shaaron
Benford, Steve
Uncontrolled Keywords:Digital Games, Computer Games, Video Games, Learning Games, Serious Games, Intrinsic Integration, Intrinsic Fantasy, Endogenous Fantasy
Faculties/Schools:UK Campuses > Faculty of Science > School of Psychology
ID Code:385
Deposited By:Matthew Habgood
Deposited On:20 Mar 2008
Last Modified:06 Feb 2009 14:43

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