Using games for learning
: developing a methodological approach

  • Olaf Graven

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


This thesis presents an investigation into the use of computer games technology and techniques in the creation of a games-based learning environment. This could support the
principle of enhancing student learning through the engagement and motivation evident in computer games, with the added benefits of reinforcement through reuse, and socialisation. An additional benefit of a games approach is the natural support for constructivist pedagogy.

The research commenced with a survey of existing learning technology and games for learning. From this it was clear that there are issues with current virtual learning environments, and the investigation showed that these are unsuited to support games- based learning. It was also clear that a number of existing games for learning built for purpose have been successful, but there are issues over reusability. The conclusion from the survey and other background research done for this thesis was that the development of a learning environment utilising a games engine could be an appropriate basis for the creation and configuration of reusable integrated games for learning. The selection of a games engine for this development meant that a consideration of extending the capability of the engine to support a learning environment was required. This led to an investigation of adding full assessment capabilities and an initial investigation were carried out which showed this to be feasible but more investigation of online assessment techniques are required.

Utilising the games engine as a learning environment a series of studies considering the integration of learning material into computer games were carried out. The rationale for these studies was to investigate the effectiveness of different models of integration and reusability of games configured in this way. Following a user evaluation and analysis a further study extending the capability of one particular approach, that of embedding learning material into a pre-authored game, demonstrated the outcomes that the research was seeking. From this a methodological approach for the design of a games based learning environment and a conceptual design for the authoring of an embedding approach to integrating learning material within a games context was described, and finally the contribution to the body of knowledge was clarified.
Date of AwardFeb 2010
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorHenry Fortuna (Supervisor) & Lachlan M. MacKinnon (Supervisor)

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