Explaining the Educational Power of Games

Explaining the Educational Power of Games

Timo Lainema (Turku School of Economics, Finland) and Eeli Saarinen (Turku School of Economics, Finland)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61520-781-7.ch002
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Abstract

This chapter introduces two views of learning relevant for game-based learning: experiential learning theory and the constructivist view on learning. The authors will first discuss, how these views explain learning from a perspective that is relevant for game-based learning. They will also evaluate, how these views on learning relate to assessment of learning through gaming. Last, they will concretize the diversity of the potential learning outcomes of gaming: how, for example, the learner’s previous knowledge, personality, the team members affect the learning experience and outcome. According to constructivism, learning is a constructive process in which the learner is building an internal representation of knowledge. This is something to which game-based education clearly adds value to.
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Experiential Learning

According to Experiential learning theory (ELT), the most powerful learning comes from direct experience – through action taking and seeing the consequences of that action. Learning is said to occur through the resolution of conflicts over different ways of dealing with the world. ELT suggests a holistic integrative perspective on learning that combines experience, perception, cognition, and behavior (Kolb, 1984).

Kolb (1984) describes the experiential learning model as: (p. 21): “an integrated process that begins with here-and-now experience followed by collection of data and observations about that experience. The data are then analyzed and conclusions of this analysis fed back to the actors in the experience for their use in the modification of their behavior and choice of new experiences”. Learning is conceived as a four-stage cycle shown in Figure 1. Immediate concrete experience is the basis for observation and reflection. Observations are assimilated into a theory from which new implications for action can be deduced. Implications or hypotheses then serve as guides in acting to create new experiences.

Figure 1.

The experiential learning model (Kolb, 1984)

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