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.

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Abstract

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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