Connecting Learning Goals and Component Cognitive Skills in Digital Games


Growing bodies of research have investigated how digital games might be used as pedagogical tools and separately, how playing commercial games influences basic cognitive capacities or skills. The goal of the present research is to draw from these separate lines of research to ask how changes in basic cognitive capacities and formal learning gains may be related. The present study employed a game in which a ship moves through different environments using forces. The game teaches the basic relationships between objects and forces in Newton’s Laws of Motion. Students played one of two versions of the game. The predictive version encouraged planning and reflection, by allowing students unlimited time to place forces along a path. In the real-time version, forces immediately affected the player when selected. The results suggest that learning was equivalent across the versions, but changes in attentional capacities may differentially contribute to learning between versions.

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