Part VI | Motivations for Game-Based Learning Research

Part VI | Motivations for Game-Based Learning Research

Part VI of Dissertation Research Series

The literature reviews discussed previously which examined the efficacy of using games for instructional purposes also reported on the impacts of educational games on motivation. Ke (2009) reviewed many empirical studies on motivation (including aspects such as self-efficacy, affective feedback, and persistence) and concluded that games generally seem to encourage motivation across varied learners and situations. In another literature review, Hays (2005) concludes: “Games do motivate. They motivate players to play the game. This can be beneficial if the game is designed to target and meet instructional objectives. Otherwise, learners may spend their time learning to be successful at the game without receiving instructional benefits from these experiences” (Hays, 2005, p. 46).

Many of the recent game-based learning studies outlined in Part IV also measured motivational aspects and largely supported the motivational increase of using games for learning. They found increased engagement in high school students (Annetta, Minogue, Holmes, & Cheng, 2009), more positive attitudes towards math in 5th graders (Ke, 2008), increased motivation for science careers in middle and high school students (Miller, Chang, Wang, Beier, & Klisch, 2011), increased motivation versus traditional teaching methods with high school students (Marina Papastergiou, 2009), maintained motivation versus dropped motivational levels in math for 8th grade students (Bai, Pan, Hirumi, & Kebritchi, 2012), and high intrinsic motivation with a decreased focus on grades in 4th and 5th grade students (Tüzün, Yılmaz-Soylu, Karakuş, İnal, & Kızılkaya, 2009).

Kebritchi et al. (2010) found insignificant differences in motivation between the treatment and control groups for a game-based learning treatment in a school setting. However, on closer investigation they discovered a confound impacting the measure; when students only went to a computer lab to play the game, they had significantly lower motivation than when they played the game both in a lab and in their classroom, suggesting that students may not have had motivational increases due to disassociating the game from their math class (Kebritchi et al., 2010). In a literature review on educational game studies in a formal school setting, Kebritchi et al. (2010) found 4 studies reporting increased motivational levels and 5 with no difference in motivation with educational games. This, paired with the confound of lab versus class time they experienced, suggests a need for further research on the motivational impacts of educational games in a school setting.





Annetta, L. A., Minogue, J., Holmes, S. Y., & Cheng, M.-T. (2009). Investigating the impact of video games on high school students’ engagement and learning about genetics. Computers & Education, 53(1), 74–85. doi:10.1016/j.compedu.2008.12.020

Bai, H., Pan, W., Hirumi, A., & Kebritchi, M. (2012). Assessing the effectiveness of a 3-D instructional game on improving mathematics achievement and motivation of middle school students. British Journal of Educational Technology, 43(6), 993–1003. doi:10.1111/j.1467-8535.2011.01269.x

Hays, R. T. (2005). The effectiveness of instructional games: a literature review and discussion. Naval Air Warfare Center Training Systems Division, 1–63.

Ke, F. (2008). A case study of computer gaming for math: Engaged learning from gameplay? Computers & Education, 51(4), 1609–1620. doi:10.1016/j.compedu.2008.03.003

Ke, F. (2009). A qualitative meta-analysis of computer games as learning tools. Handbook of Research on Effective Electronic Gaming in Education, 1, 1–32.

Kebritchi, M., Hirumi, A., & Bai, H. (2010). The effects of modern mathematics computer games on mathematics achievement and class motivation. Computers & Education, 55(2), 427–443. doi:10.1016/j.compedu.2010.02.007

Marina Papastergiou. (2009). Digital Game-Based Learning in high school Computer Science education: Impact on educational effectiveness and student motivation. Computers & Education, 52(1), 1–12. doi:10.1016/j.compedu.2008.06.004

Miller, L. M., Chang, C.-I., Wang, S., Beier, M. E., & Klisch, Y. (2011). Learning and motivational impacts of a multimedia science game. Computers & Education, 57(1), 1425–1433. doi:10.1016/j.compedu.2011.01.016

Tüzün, H., Yılmaz-Soylu, M., Karakuş, T., İnal, Y., & Kızılkaya, G. (2009). The effects of computer games on primary school students’ achievement and motivation in geography learning. Computers & Education, 52(1), 68–77. doi:10.1016/j.compedu.2008.06.008


Lindsey Tropf

Lindsey Tropf

Founder & CEO of @immersedgames // School psychology doctoral candidate interested in #edtech, game-based learning, and using data.

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