Video games engage players in rapid and complex interactions of self-regulatory processes. The way individuals regulate their cognitive, affective, and behavioral process while playing electronic games, relates to their ability to cope with the onslaught of information that electronic games require for their mastery. The psychological factors that produce self-regulated learning are explored as they relate to a player’s intentionality, interest, aptitude, motivation, goal-setting, and affect while playing games. A discussion of video games as authentic learning environments looks at the roles of student initiated learning in authentic contexts and specific design strategies are outlined. Practical learning strategies that promote SRL are presented to facilitate the use of conscious self-regulatory skills that students can implement in these authentic learning environments. This chapter opens the discussion of the role of self-regulated learning in video game environments and its impact in the field of educational gaming.
Video games engage players in rapid and complex interactions of self-regulatory processes. The way individuals regulate their cognitive, affective, and behavioral process while playing electronic games, relates to their ability to cope with the onslaught of information that electronic games require for their mastery. As a player interacts within the gaming environment, the game responds forcing the player to adapt and react. The responsiveness, adaptability, and interactivity of electronic games are unique in that they initiate self-regulatory processes through their inherent design. This responsiveness also serves as a conduit in which game players can explore, discover, and reveal new abilities before they are actualized in other contexts (Johnson, Christie, & Wardle, 2004). The transfer of declarative, procedural, conditional, and self-regulation strategies are situated in learning approaches that game players use for learning. These strategies are developed through the unique characteristics in games that promote self-regulated learning.
Video games possess at least eight characteristics that make them ideal environments for facilitating and promoting self-regulated learning. Games are: (1) interactive, (2) repetitive, (3) adaptive, (4) cumulative, (5) scaffolded, (6) affectively situated, (7) intrinsically oriented, and (8) based on both player-centered and game-based goals. These characteristics, whether in the classroom, online, or through play, are recognized qualities of enriched learning environments. As electronic games can also be recognized as enriched learning environments, we now have the ability to evaluate video games as an educational tool. This recognition allows researchers, educators, and students to exploit these key features to promote self-regulated learning (SRL).
Self-regulated learning, while both implicit and consequential in most recreational gaming, provides a grounded context in which both tacit and conscious learning can be studied. Although implicit learning in games does not represent an efficient environment for learning curricular objectives, there are strategies that can be implemented that make the implicit content of the game explicit. Facilitating game players’ abilities to regulate their motivation, goal achievement, engagement, and emotions while playing games, promotes conscious and reflective student learning. These practices and strategies are needed for educational gaming to make an impact in the classroom. Although there has been much promotion of the idea of games in education (see Gee, 2003; Prensky, 2001; Schaffer, 2007), few researchers have addressed the wide ranging psychological issues involved in marrying recreational games with learning. Addressing the psychological aspects of gaming as it relates to the psychology of the player, interactions in the game, and the players’ ability to learn in a gaming environment, provide some reference as to why the psychological logistics of educational gaming are greater than the technological limitations. As video games have profound implications in the study and facilitation of the self-regulatory processes for learning, this chapter opens the discussion of the role of self-regulated learning in video game environments and its impact in the field of educational gaming.
Key Terms in this Chapter
Learning Strategies: Learning strategies are tactics students use to assist them in the learning process.
Self-Determination: Self-determination involves self-directed, motivated action to achieve a particular outcome. The self determination theory distinguishes between different types of motivation based upon the different reasons or goals that give rise to an action. Intrinsic motivation is when something is inherently interesting or enjoyable and extrinsic motivation occurs when someone feels externally propelled into action (Deci & Ryan, 1985; Ryan & Deci, 2000).
Self-Reflection: Self-reflection is a critical component in the self-regulatory process and involves the continuous comparison of present levels of achievement with personal goals and standards. These comparisons are often called judgments of success (Zimmerman, 2004).
Self-Efficacy: Self-efficacy is the belief in one’s capability to organize and execute a plan of action required to achieve a desired outcome (Bandura, 1997). Learners’ beliefs about their capabilities to learn has a profound impact on their motivation to learn, their metacognitive monitoring and control, and overall self-regulated learning activities (Bandura, 1997; Pintrich, 2000a).
Volition: Volition is strength of will exercised through conscious choice. When a student embodies volition, they have the capacity to utilize their cognitive resources and strategies to enact on choices to achieve academic goals (Corno, 1993; Corno & Kanfer, 1993).
Motivation: Motivation is a willingness or desire to be engaged in completing a task (Wolters, 1998).
Metacognition: Metacognition is a knowledge or cognition about cognitive phenomena, or more commonly, thinking about thinking or cognition about cognition. Metacognition involves and awareness that one is an “actor in their environment” (Flavell, 1979).
Goal-Orientation: Goal orientation concerns the underlying attitudes that give rise to certain actions. For example, a performance goal-orientation occurs when one focuses on the demonstration of competence to others, whereas a mastery goal-orientation occurs when on focuses on the development of competence within a task (Elliot, 1999).
Self-Regulated Learning: Self-regulated learning (SRL) involves an active, effortful process in which learners set goals for their learning and then attempt to monitor, regulate, and control their cognition, motivation, and behavior (Pintrich, 2000b). Learners manipulate on-going activity to situate meaning development through self-regulation.
Cognition: Cognition refers to the conscious and unconscious mechanisms in which one uses to understand and make sense of the world.