Motivational Aspects of Gaming for Students with Intellectual Disabilities

Motivational Aspects of Gaming for Students with Intellectual Disabilities

Maria Saridaki (National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Greece) and Constantinos Mourlas (National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Greece)
Copyright: © 2011 |Pages: 11
DOI: 10.4018/ijgbl.2011100105
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The attention to learners with special needs, in particular those with intellectual disabilities, is an area of continuous development. It is considered important to develop adaptive educational solutions for the integration of people with educational difficulties according to their needs. Digital games provide an attractive and direct platform in order to approach students of every intellectual level. However, practical game based learning application in the special education classroom is still regarded with skepticism by educators, or has been treated solely as an extrinsic reinforcement. Moreover, the design and usage of digital games as a motivational tool for students with intellectual disabilities has not been thoroughly documented. This paper presents a review of the motivational theories and research findings regarding the usage of digital games in the educational experience of users with intellectual disabilities, with a scope to define the potentials, prerequisites and possible limitations of such an intervention.
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Motivation And Learning

Motivation is a fundamental concept in most theories of learning and is closely related to arousal, attention, anxiety, and feedback/reinforcement. When we motivate ourselves, we are able to develop incentives, thus setting up conditions in order to start or terminate certain behavior. Especially when it comes to learning and education, motivation deals with the problem of setting up the conditions that will augment the learning performance of the students.

In most forms of behavioral theory, learning can depend on the strength of the drive and its underlying motivation. Studies show that in general people prefer tasks of intermediate difficulty and there are various factors that might increase or decrease our will to learn and participate. For example, a person needs to be motivated enough to pay attention while learning, whereas anxiety can decrease our motivation to learn. Receiving a reward or feedback for an action usually increases the likelihood that the action will be repeated but at the same time this doesn’t mean that when the reward will discontinue the action will be repeated. And this issue brings us to the distinction between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation and we will accept the simple definition of Malone and Lepper (1987) that intrinsic motivation is what people will do without external inducement.

In behavioral theory, motivation is a matter of primary drives such as hunger and comfort, and tends to focus on extrinsic motivation and rewards rather than goals and craving for achievement. On the other hand, in cognitive theory, motivation to achieve is a function of the individual's desire for success, the expectancy of success, and the incentives are provided in order to create intentions and goal-seeking acts. Cogntitive theories deal with intrinsic motivation rather than with external incentives (Ames & Ames, 1989; Atkinson & Raynor, 1974; Weiner, 1990).

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