What Cognitive Psychology Can Tell Us About Educational Computer Games

What Cognitive Psychology Can Tell Us About Educational Computer Games

Michael K. Gardner (The University of Utah, USA) and David L. Strayer (University of Utah, USA)
Copyright: © 2021 |Pages: 18
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-3432-8.ch021
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Developers of educational computer games often have incomplete knowledge of the cognitive abilities of learners, yet this knowledge can be useful in informing game design. This chapter reviews two important cognitive abilities that underlie learning: working memory and attentional capacity/executive function. From a description of the developmental course of each ability, we derive a set of recommendations for game developers to follow when designing games for learners of different ages. The chapter next reviews the psychology of transfer of training, including two major theories on the issue. The doctrine of identical elements appears to give the better description of how transfer occurs from training environment (the educational computer game) to target environment (real world performance of the learned skill). It is recommended that games embody, as closely as possible, the end behavior they hope to produce, as this will produce maximal transfer. Finally, we review some controversial research demonstrating distant transfer in computer video gaming.
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The Development of Cognitive Abilities

A number of cognitive abilities are necessary for children to benefit from educational computer games. Games that might be suitable for a 12th grader would not be suitable for a 1st grader. The abilities we will focus on are memory and attention or executive control.

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