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Cognitive factors related to user involvement with computers and their effects upon learning from an educational computer game

Abstract : Cognitive theories proposed to explain the high motivation to use, and deep involvement with computers, often found in schoolchildren suggest three main factors. They are: desire in the user to control the computer; the user responds to a perceived challenge from the computer; and the user wishes to explore the complexity of the computer software. The paper describes an experiment using a specifically developed piece of software to investigate these factors and to assess their effects on involvement with and consequent learning from an educational computer game. The program developed for the experiment was a simulation designed to teach children what to do in the case of a domestic fire. Different versions of the game were produced each providing or lacking one of the factors proposed to create involvement. The versions provided control by giving the user a choice of routes through the simulation, complexity in the form of colour graphics to engender curiosity and challenge in the form of a high score table. One hundred and fifty pairs of primary school children, matched for age and ability, played two of the six versions and compared them on questions designed to assess differences in involvement with the two versions. They also completed a questionnaire on fire safety knowledge before and after playing the first version. The children enjoyed using the simulation very much but did not show much diversity in their choice of routes through it. They appeared to follow two main plans, either to get everything right or to see what happened if they did something wrong. The results, automatically recorded by the computer during the experiment, showed that being in control of the program was most important in creating involvement with it. Introducing challenge and complexity separately did not increase involvement by any significant amount. However, the children became more deeply involved when the program contained both complexity and challenge. Increased involvement was found to result in increased learning from the simulation. Thus, all three cognitive factors were found to increase involvement with control being the most important in affecting learning since, if the users did not feel that they were in control of the program, they could not become involved with it. These results support the concept of active learning and it is proposed that, where the student is in control of the learning process, enhanced learning should occur. (
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Submitted on : Friday, November 23, 2007 - 8:57:09 AM
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Jocelyn Wishart. Cognitive factors related to user involvement with computers and their effects upon learning from an educational computer game. Computers and Education, Elsevier, 1990, 15 (1-3), pp.145-150. ⟨10.1016/0360-1315(90)90140-3⟩. ⟨hal-00190754⟩



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