Current Practices in Serious Game Research: A Review from a Learning Outcomes Perspective

Current Practices in Serious Game Research: A Review from a Learning Outcomes Perspective

Pieter Wouters (Utrecht University, The Netherlands), Erik D. van der Spek (Utrecht University, The Netherlands) and Herre van Oostendorp (Utrecht University, The Netherlands)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-360-9.ch014
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Despite scant empirical substantiation, serious games are in widespread use. The authors review 28 studies with empirical data from a learning outcome perspective to outline the effectiveness of serious games (compared to other learning approaches and specific game features). They conclude that serious games potentially improve the acquisition of knowledge and cognitive skills. Moreover, they seem to be promising for the acquisition of fine-grid motor skills and to accomplish attitudinal change. However, not all game features increase the effectiveness of the game. To further advance game research the chapter proposes recommendations including the alignment of learning outcome(s) and game type, the alignment of the game complexity and human cognitive processes, attention for cognitive and motivational processes, research on specific mitigating factors like gender on game effectiveness and, finally, developing new ways of assessing game effectiveness.
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A Taxonomy Of Learning Outcomes In Serious Games

There are many classifications of learning outcomes. Traditionally, researchers have focused on the cognitive dimension of learning outcomes (Bloom, 1956; Gagné, 1977). Others have included affect-oriented objectives such as appreciation (Krathwohl, Bloom & Masia, 1964). More recent, other classifications have emerged identifying factors such as collaboration/teamwork, communication and self-regulation as potential outcomes of learning (Baker & Mayer, 1999). An interesting classification of learning outcomes has been provided by Kraiger, Ford and Salas (1993), who distinguish between cognitive outcomes (e.g., problem solving), skill-based outcomes concerning the development of technical or motor skills, and affective outcomes including attitude and motivation. Drawing from the two latter classification schemes, we propose a taxonomy consisting of four categories of learning outcomes: cognitive, motor skills, affective and communicative. Figure 1 presents an overview of these learning outcomes and their constituent parts.

Figure 1.

A taxonomy of learning outcomes


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