There is current interest from the field of education into the value of video games to support learning. Research investigating outcomes associated with video game play has just begun to scratch the surface of their educational potential. Further exploration needs to focus on the internal processes of the play, specifically the relationship between the utilization of cognitive skills, the learning process, and a player’s experience with playing video games. Drawing support from the field of expertise, the research presented in this chapter looks at this relationship by comparing the processes used by video game players based on their level of experience. Results from this study add to the understanding of the relationship between experience, cognition, and learning from video game play. The results of this research also have implications for educational game design and the pedagogical techniques used to make effective learning opportunities available to all learners.
From an educational perspective, the learning process requires the consideration of several factors, the most important of which is the utilization of prior knowledge to support new knowledge acquisition (Bransford, Brown, & Cocking, 2000; Bransford & Johnson, 1972). It is the quality and quantity of prior knowledge that accounts for the performance differences between experts and novices on domain-based tasks (Dreyfus & Dreyfus, 1986; Ericsson & Charness, 1994). The quantity of knowledge and experience an expert has achieved through deliberate practice forms foundational knowledge structures associated with a specific domain. The experience-based knowledge structures of experts directly impact their ability to perform domain-related tasks quickly and efficiently by guiding their attention processes to identify relevant information in an environment. Extensive domain-based experience not only directs the actions of experts, but also guides how they learn new information. When presented with new information, an expert’s prior knowledge will direct attention toward patterns and cues that facilitates the integration of newly acquired knowledge into their existing structure (Allard & Starkes, 1991). As a result of the automatic nature of performance and learning associated with expertise, when confronted with a domain-based problem, cognitive processes are unburdened and available to process contextual information to facilitate resolution (Anzai, 1991).
Key Terms in this Chapter
Judgments: How players make determinations and choices about a situation.
Strategy: How players implement a process or combination of processes to navigate through the game environment.
Knowledge Domain: The cumulative body of information associated with a specific area of performance, or profession.
Knowledge Structure: The mental constructions representing a body of knowledge developed in relation to a domain.
Cognitive Skills: The mental processes associated with thinking and problem solving in a domain.
Novice: An individual with little or no experience in relation to performing a specific task.
Expert: An individual who demonstrates proficiency in performing a task or tasks associated with a specific domain as a resulting from an extensive amount of practice.
Skill Acquisition: How players learn to use the tools and abilities available in the game.