Handbook of Research on Improving Learning and Motivation through Educational Games: Multidisciplinary Approaches

The Handbook of Research on Improving Learning and Motivation through Educational Games: Multidisciplinary Approaches is now available.

This handbook includes chapters from more than 100 experts in instructional design, game design, psychology and educational psychology, who depict their experience of designing and deploying GBL solutions, and reflect on their achievements and shortcomings. These experiences are then employed to inform the reader by providing relevant advice and guidelines accordingly.



GBL has evolved considerably during the last decades, in terms of theoretical models and applications, and is gaining increasing recognition among a wide range of sectors including formal education and corporate training. This significant change has been supported by new and more accessible gaming technologies, and the advent of educational theories that promote a constructive approach to learning, and acknowledge motivation and personal differences as determining factors for successful learning.

However, despite a growing body of knowledge on educational video games, there is still a need for more rigorous experiments in order to define frameworks that guarantee systematic learning and motivation. Without solid theoretical foundations, and universal guidelines on how to design and use video games in educational settings, it will be difficult to obtain all the benefits that these games can offer.

Several successful GBL solutions have been produced to date, and researchers have made substantial findings which have furthered the understanding of the intricate factors that affect learning and motivation in video games. Nonetheless, many challenges lie ahead:

  • More developers need to be informed of best practices pertaining to the design of successful educational games.
  • More educators need to be aware of the educational potential of video games. They need to understand how this medium can be used successfully to consistently motivate and instruct learners.
  • Stakeholders involved in funding and identifying relevant educational solutions (e.g., company owners, policy-makers, or managers) should be informed accordingly, so that they understand the economical and managerial implications of GBL. This should enable them to make informed decisions, thereby supporting instructors and learners with relevant structures and resources.
  • Educational video games should be envisaged through a multidisciplinary approach, and be designed accordingly by multidisciplinary teams including experts in game design, instructional design, and psychology.
  • Researchers should avoid the mistakes of the past and create educational applications that truly tap into the motivational and emotional potential of video games; educational games should also account for curricular learning objectives. These two conditions are crucial for the adoption of GBL by both instructors and students.
  • More practical recommendations on how to use GBL systems are needed. Whereas many publications on GBL report on experiments and theoretical models, very few manage to provide simple and practical guidelines that designers and instructors can easily follow and apply.
  • GBL systems should follow a user-centered approach to learning, and acknowledge personal differences at both cognitive and affective levels. It is only by providing personalized emotional and cognitive experiences to users (e.g., characters, scenarios, or learning interventions) that reproducible and sustainable results will be achieved.

To address some of these challenges and expand the existing body of knowledge on GBL, I decided to launch a publication project involving experts from different fields, all with an interest in designing highly engaging and educational game-based educational systems. The primary objective of this project was to compile current research in GBL, to provide a comprehensive yet practical explanation of GBL, and to analyze the multiple factors, including design, development, integration, and evaluation, that contribute to both learning and motivation in video games.

This project has been an interesting journey and a truly collaborative experience involving the work and contribution of many enthusiastic and dedicated individuals. More than a year after submitting my proposal for this book to IGI-Global, and having collected, reviewed, and compiled the invaluable information submitted by authors and reviewers, it is with great enthusiasm that I am writing the preface of this publication. I believe this book will be instrumental in expanding our understanding of the multiple factors that influence the effective design and use of GBL. I also hope that it will assist teachers, students, policy-makers, and developers, and inspire them to tap into the many possibilities offered by GBL.

This handbook includes chapters from more than 100 experts in instructional design, game design, psychology and educational psychology, who depict their experience of designing and deploying GBL solutions, and reflect on their achievements and shortcomings. These experiences are then employed to inform the reader by providing relevant advice and guidelines accordingly.

All chapters have been evaluated using a thorough review process. In order to recruit authors, a call for chapters was issued, requiring potential contributors to submit a proposal that described the coverage, uniqueness and relevance of their chapter. All proposals were then evaluated based on their relevance, and every effort was made to include a representative range of topics. Selected authors were asked to submit their chapters, which were then assessed through a double-blind review process by three reviewers. Following the double-blind reviews, accepted authors were provided with recommendations from the reviewers and the editor, and asked to submit an amended script. This amended version was then evaluated, and a final notification of acceptance was issued. As a result of this review process, this handbook includes 52 high quality chapters that provide a comprehensive explanation of the issues, solutions, and challenges related to GBL.

Book Structure

The chapters in this book have been divided in five key areas:

  • Introduction to Game-Based Learning. This section provides introductory material on Game-Based Learning. Readers with little or no prior knowledge of the field will find valuable information to help their understanding of how video games can be appreciated and explained in the light of educational and motivational theories. It also includes two literature reviews on the use of computer games in education that will help the reader to appreciate the evolution of GBL and the challenges that lie ahead. This section also comprises an analysis of the barriers to using video games in the classroom, an overview of the necessary conditions for the successful integration and deployment of video games in instructional settings, and an explanation of the role that teachers can play to support the effective use of video games.
  • Cognitive Approach to Game-Based Learning: Design Patterns and Instructional Design. This section describes GBL solutions that concentrate on the cognitive aspects of learning, with particular emphasis on instructional design, educational theories, and design patterns. The authors address the difficult and complex tasks of identifying, measuring and combining the factors that contribute to both learning and motivation in video games.
  • Psychological Approach to Game-Based Learning: Emotions, Motivation and Engagement. This section focuses on a psychological approach to GBL, and explains how emotions and motivation can be harnessed to improve learning in video games.
  • User-Centered Approach to Game-Based Learning: Accounting for Users’ Differences, Specificities and Disabilities. This section accounts for users’ differences, specificities and disabilities in the design of GBL systems. The authors describe theoretical frameworks and guidelines that address issues and challenges such as improving motivation, providing tailored interventions with Intelligent Tutoring Systems (ITSs), accounting for gender differences, applying games to neuro-rehabilitation, or engaging children with attention deficit or intellectual disabilities.
  • Curricular Approach to Game-Based Learning: Integrating Video Games in Instructional Settings. This section describes how video games can be deployed and utilized in different instructional settings. The chapters include experiments on the use of video games to teach law, engineering, physics, leadership and health. The authors explain how these video games can improve current teaching practices. They describe the rationale and theoretical models behind the creation and deployment of their systems, and provide helpful insights and recommendations based on their experiences.

You can obtain more information on this book, by visiting the IGI website.

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