Intelligent Tutoring and Games (ITaG)

Intelligent Tutoring and Games (ITaG)

Danielle S. McNamara (University of Memphis, USA), G. Tanner Jackson (University of Memphis, USA) and Art Graesser (University of Memphis, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61520-713-8.ch003
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Intelligent Tutoring Systems (ITSs) have been producing consistent learning gains for decades. The authors describe here a conceptual framework that provides a guide to how adding game-based features and components may improve the effectiveness of ITS learning environments by improving students’ motivation to engage with the system. A problem consistently faced by ITS researchers is the gap between liking and learning. ITSs effectively produce learning gains, but students often dislike interacting with the system. A potential solution to this problem lies in games. ITS researchers have begun to incorporate game-based elements within learning systems. This chapter aims to describe some of those elements, categorize them within functional groups, and provide insight into how elements within each category may affect various types of motivation.
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Game Research

Game research is booming. In 2007, industries such as music and movies saw either negative or stagnant growth (-10.0% and +1.8% respectively), but the gaming industry reported dramatic growth (+28.4%; Combs, 2008). It is arguably the fastest growing area of learning research in the 21st century, and spans multiple disciplines, including: computer, education, and social sciences.

There are numerous goals of game research. One area has examined whether, how, and what students learn from entertainment games (e.g., SimCity, World of Warcraft). A second area concentrates on the development of serious games and evaluates the degree to which these games both engage learners and help them learn. A third area of research focuses on identifying the features of games that best promote learning in the context of serious games.

In this chapter, we propose two additional areas of research that have yet to be extensively promoted in the literature. The first is to examine the benefits of adding ITS or learning principles to serious games. Learning principles would include notions such as the importance of generating information, paraphrasing, summarizing, explaining, observing and evaluating examples, modeling-scaffolding-fading, cognitive disequilibrium, practicing skills, and receiving feedback (as well as principles on how to schedule feedback). For example, research has indicated that various forms of instructional support can facilitate learning from games (Moreno & Mayer, 2005; Rieber, 2005; Shaffer, 2007; Swaak & de Jong, 2001), including guidance, tutors, explanations on feedback, and prompted reflection. The second relatively new area of research under focus in this chapter is on the benefits of incorporating game-based principles into established ITSs. Together, these two areas of research form the essence of ITaG, the optimal fusion of principles of learning and motivation for creating games that are enhanced with learning and game principles. The ultimate goal is to better understand the features of ITSs and games that can be most effectively merged within a learning environment (i.e., optimizing learning, motivation, and engagement).

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