Kinesthetic Gaming, Cognition, and Learning: Implications for P-12 Education

Kinesthetic Gaming, Cognition, and Learning: Implications for P-12 Education

Erdem Demiroz (University of Missouri – Kansas City, USA)
Copyright: © 2016 |Pages: 27
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-9629-7.ch006
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Abstract

Kinesthetic gaming, which is also called full-body gaming, is the rising star of digital gaming trends of recent years. With the integration of commercially available motion tracking systems into game consoles, players are able to control the games with kinesthetic movements without any handheld controllers. This new form of advanced human-computer interaction (HCI) allows players to interact with games in more realistic and natural ways. Because of its novelty, research in kinesthetic gameplay is limited, and experimental research on the effects of kinesthetic gaming on learning is almost non-existent. The purpose of the chapter is to investigate the philosophical foundations of kinesthetic game-playing by emphasizing the role of physical action on learning under the framework of cognitive theories and to discuss possible implications in P-12 education. The author aims to introduce kinesthetic game-playing as a powerful tool for learning and to develop new insights on gaming in P-12 education.
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Introduction

Due to new developments in gaming technology, motion tracking systems that use players’ physical actions as inputs are becoming widely available. As of today, almost all gaming consoles are coming with motion tracking systems such as Microsoft Kinect©, Nintendo Wii© or Sony Move©. These motion tracking systems provide unique opportunities to evaluate game-play not only from an educational perspective but also from a cognitive perspective since players’ gaming experiences become more realistic and natural with the integration of physical action into gaming. Such controller-free gaming experiences provide opportunities to attribute new meanings to physical movements that are not game-related especially when they are evaluated under the principles of cognitive theories. This new meaning attributed to the non-registered inputs might be helpful to investigate the mutual relationship between physical action, environment and cognitive development.

Kinesthetic gaming has an extreme potential for educational implementation and practice through virtual experiential learning. Educational content can be delivered in an effective way, and learners can interact and engage with the content as they learn in real life settings through gaming. The kinesthetic gaming in P-12 can be integrated into any content area or field of teaching. For instance, learners could collect virtual apples from trees in virtual learning environments in which learners are physically active to learn counting in mathematics in early grades; an adult learner can learn how to play piano by physically practicing a virtual piano; a graduate student could complete a dangerous experiment in a virtual chemistry laboratory; a 5th grader could take a field-trip to a virtual museum by physically wandering around in real-life settings; or a medical student could complete a virtual surgery by physically acting in real life settings. These are basic ideas, and more mature and complex tasks can be proposed for educational purposes.

There is an increasing number of research studies that investigate the role of kinesthetic engagement and physical action on learning processes in gaming, cognitive science, and learning literature (e.g. Bautista, Roth, & Thom, 2011; Bianchi-Berthouze, 2013; Chang, Chien, Chiang, Lin, & Lai, 2013; Chao, Huang, Fang, & Chen, 2013; Chen, Hsu, Hsieh, & Chou, 2014; Ferrai, 2007; Nakamura et al., 2013; Rambusch, 2006; Rambusch & Ziemke, 2005; and Xu & Ke, 2014). Generally speaking, research on kinesthetic game-playing and its effects on educational outcomes are promising; however, there is a lack of experimental research. Although basic requirement of learning settings are satisfied in virtual learning settings that offers engaging educational experiences, educational theory and game design cannot meet on a common ground through a well-designed model (Kiili, 2005). Therefore, virtual learning environments in which players are totally immersed and physically active should be developed by considering design principles of gaming in order to investigate the effects of kinesthetic gaming on learning progress. Kinesthetic movements not only impact players’ experiences of game-playing and cognitive development in virtual learning settings, but also affect the learning experiences and cognitive development in real life.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Player-Avatar Identity: Corporeal connection between avatar and active player who controls the avatar.

Natural (Ecumenical) Learning Approach: An educational approach that is built on enactivist cognitive development and learning.

Enactivism: Cognitive approach that assumes cognition is embodied, extended, affected and situated if it is enacted, and places kinesthetic movements at the center of cognitive development.

Virtual Settings: Computer-generated digital environments that include digital games, educational games, mixed-reality environments, and virtual realities.

Cognitive Agent: Living organism that is capable of acting and interacting to the environment for cognitive development and learning.

Non-Registered Inputs: Physical actions that are consciously or unconsciously performed by cognitive agent under high level immersion and presence in virtual setting.

Avatar: Computer generated digital characters controlled by players in virtual settings.

Kinesthetic Gameplay: Full-body gaming. Controlling the game mechanisms through physical action and body movements.

Motion Tracking: Motion sensing electronic devices that converts players’ physical actions to digital inputs to control virtual learning environments.

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