Hagbood, MP Jacob and Ainsworth, Shaaron E (2011) Motivating children to learn effectively: exploring the value of intrinsic integration in educational games, Journal of the Learning Sciences, 20 (2), 169-206.
The concept of intrinsic motivation has been considered to lie at the heart of the user engagement created by digital games. Yet despite this, educational software has traditionally attempted to harness games as extrinsic motivation by using them as a sugar-coating for learning content. This paper tests the concept of intrinsic integration as a way of creating a more productive relationship between educational games and their learning content. Two studies assessed this approach by designing and evaluating an educational game for teaching mathematics to seven to eleven year olds called Zombie Division. The results of these studies showed that children learned more from the intrinsic version of the game under fixed time limits and spent seven times longer playing it in free time situations. Together they offer evidence for the genuine value of an intrinsic approach for creating effective educational games. The theoretical and commercial implications of these findings are discussed.
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