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Title: The effective integration of digital games and learning content
Author: Habgood, Matthew Peter Jacob
ISNI:       0000 0001 3523 3259
Awarding Body: University of Nottingham
Current Institution: University of Nottingham
Date of Award: 2007
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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.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: LB1024 Teaching