The Differences between Problem-Based and Drill and Practice Games on Motivations to Learn

The Differences between Problem-Based and Drill and Practice Games on Motivations to Learn

Menno Deen (Fontys University of Applied Sciences and Eindhoven University of Technology, Eindhoven, Netherlands), Antoine van den Beemt (Eindhoven School of Education, Eindhoven University of Technology, Eindhoven, Netherlands) and Ben Schouten (Eindhoven University of Technology and Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences, Eindhoven and Amsterdam, Netherlands)
DOI: 10.4018/IJGCMS.2015070103
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Two trends can be witnessed in educational game design: Problem-Based Learning and Drill & Practice Training approach. The general assumption appears to favor Problem-Based approach above Drill & Practice, in regard to players' motivation. However, the differences between the approaches are seldom studied. The authors examined the motivational impact of one game consisting of a Problem-Based-, and a Drill & Practice learning mode. The first presents players with an ill-defined problem and offers various solutions to a challenge. In the Drill & Practice mode, there is only one correct answer. Secondary school students played the game and completed a pre- and post-test questionnaire about their experienced regulatory style for studying mathematics. Results suggest that the Problem-Based mode may decline the experience of feeling controlled by others to engage in mathematics learning. In comparison, players of the Drill & Practice mode reported increased intrinsic motivations towards mathematics.
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Problem-Based education has been put forward as the most fruitful approach when it comes to serious game design (Aldrich, 2009; Gee, 2005). In Problem-Based learning, students start with a problem. This problem is rather loosely defined as something ‘for which an individual lacks a ready response’ (Hallinger, 1992, p. 27). Problem-Based education distinguishes between well- and ill-defined problems. Ill-defined problems are those ‘in which one or several aspects of the situation is not well specified, the goals are unclear, and there is insufficient information to solve them’ (Ge & Land, p5 in Ertmer et al., 2008). Shaffer’s (Shaffer, Squire, Halverson, & Gee, 2005; Shaffer, 2008) suggestion for epistemic games, in which players adopt the perspective of a professional to confront complex problems in simulation-like game, aligns with Problem-Based learning approach.

Drill & Practice learning teaches the ‘what’ and the ‘when’, but not the ‘why’ and the ‘how’. Ke (2008) suggests that students in Drill & Practice Learning merely memorize facts. As a result, this kind of learning may not facilitate creative thought or stimulate problem-solving skills. Or, as Reeve et al. (2004) state, it may not present students with the opportunity to experiment, explore and struggle with the learning content to find the truth for themselves. Games such as Math Gran Prix (Atari Inc., 1982), Math Blaster (Davidson & Associates, 1994), and Dr. Kawashima’s Brain Training (Nintendo SDD, 2005) align with the Drill & Practice learning. In these games, there is only one solution to a mathematical challenge, and players are prompted to input the correct one.

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