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Comparing serious games and educational simulations: effects on enjoyment, deep thinking, interest and cognitive learning gains


Imlig-Iten, Nina; Petko, Dominik (2018). Comparing serious games and educational simulations: effects on enjoyment, deep thinking, interest and cognitive learning gains. Simulation & Gaming, 49(4):401-422.

Abstract

Background and Aim. Serious games are generally considered to have positive effects on many aspects of learner engagement as well as on cognitive learning gains and subject-related interest. Yet few studies have examined which combination of game elements influence engagement and learning, and how these factors are related. For this reason, an experimental study was conducted to explore these aspects with regard to digital serious games.

Method. Twelve primary school classes with 153 students from 9 to 12 years of age participated in this experimental field study using group comparisons. The students were randomly assigned to interact either with an educational simulation or a digital serious game. The results were analyzed using t-tests and hierarchical linear regressions.

Results and Conclusion. Results show that there are no group differences in tested learning gains nor in self-reported cognitive learning gains or increase in interest. Although there are also no differences regarding enjoyment, self-reported levels of deep thinking are higher when learning with a serious game. While post-test knowledge is only influenced by prior knowledge, self-reported cognitive learning gains and increases in interest are both positively correlated with deep thinking and enjoyment. These results lead to the conclusion that learning with serious games does not always lead to the expected increases in all aspects of engagement and learning outcomes. Thus, research needs to address the interplay of game elements and their impact on engagement and learning in more detail.

Abstract

Background and Aim. Serious games are generally considered to have positive effects on many aspects of learner engagement as well as on cognitive learning gains and subject-related interest. Yet few studies have examined which combination of game elements influence engagement and learning, and how these factors are related. For this reason, an experimental study was conducted to explore these aspects with regard to digital serious games.

Method. Twelve primary school classes with 153 students from 9 to 12 years of age participated in this experimental field study using group comparisons. The students were randomly assigned to interact either with an educational simulation or a digital serious game. The results were analyzed using t-tests and hierarchical linear regressions.

Results and Conclusion. Results show that there are no group differences in tested learning gains nor in self-reported cognitive learning gains or increase in interest. Although there are also no differences regarding enjoyment, self-reported levels of deep thinking are higher when learning with a serious game. While post-test knowledge is only influenced by prior knowledge, self-reported cognitive learning gains and increases in interest are both positively correlated with deep thinking and enjoyment. These results lead to the conclusion that learning with serious games does not always lead to the expected increases in all aspects of engagement and learning outcomes. Thus, research needs to address the interplay of game elements and their impact on engagement and learning in more detail.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Education
Dewey Decimal Classification:370 Education
Uncontrolled Keywords:digital game-based learning, engagement, game attribute, gamification, learning, serious game, simulation
Language:English
Date:1 August 2018
Deposited On:09 Apr 2019 09:57
Last Modified:30 Jan 2020 14:30
Publisher:Sage Publications Ltd.
ISSN:1552-826X
OA Status:Closed
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1177/1046878118779088

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