Serious games as a malleable learning medium: The effects of narrative, gameplay, and making on students’ performance and attitudes

Abstract. Research into educational technology has evaluated new computer-based systems as tools for improving students’ academic performance and engagement. Serious games should also be considered as an alternative pedagogical medium for attracting students with different needs and expectations. In this field study, we empirically examined different forms of serious-game use for learning on learning performance and attitudes of eighty 13-year-old students in the first grade of middle school. Divided into four groups of 20 students, each group practiced with a maths video game in three ways. The first group played the storytelling maths game, the second played the same game but with no story and the third played and modified the video game. Finally, a control group practised in a paper-based (traditional) way by solving exercises. Although only minor differences in learning performance were identified, we found significant differences in the attitudes of the students toward learning through the video game. Students who are not motivated by conventional paper-based assignments might be engaged better with the use of a video game. Our findings suggest that video game pedagogy could provide malleable learning for different groups of students using methods that move beyond the conventional tool-based approach.

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