Examining a Conceptual vs. a Computational Design on Understanding in a Mathematics Game

This paper examines the effect of different learning mechanics on middle school students’ learning outcomes and motivation in two versions of a mathematics videogame designed to teach the properties of angles. One version was computation-oriented and required players to choose a correct numerical answer that solved an unknown angle. The second version was identical, except that players were required to choose the correct conceptual rule that would apply to finding the solution for an unknown angle. The impact of these two game versions was subsequently analyzed to determine their effect on two dependent variables: learning, and motivation. Results from N=194 sixth and seventh grade students, randomly assigned to play one of the two versions of the game, suggest that the learning mechanics studied affect how much students learn, favoring the computation-oriented game version. Implications of these findings are discussed within the context of educational game design.

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