Thursday, January 17, 2008

Making Learning Fun, A Taxonomy of Intrinsic Motivations for Learning

Here I continue discussion of readings for Instructional Simulations & Games, IDT 545,

Making Learning Fun, A Taxonomy of Intrinsic Motivations for Learning
Malone and Lepper
In Aptitude Learning and Instruction Ed. Snow

The authors seek to set up instructional environments that are intrinsically motivating. They look to computer games and their motivating features.

They quote "The will to learn is an intrinsic motive, one that finds both its source and its reward in its own exercise. The will to learn becomes a 'problem' only under specialized circumstances like those of a school, where a curriculum is set, students confined and a path fixed" (Bruner)

This is possibly not quite the same as the Crawford position that play IS learning (The Art of Computer Game Design

They propose these classes of motivation:


In a study of game preferences of 65 elementary elementary school students (Malone 1981), they found the following correlation with preference:

Goal 0.65**
computer keeps score 0.56**
Audio effects 0.51**
Randomness involved in game 0.48**
Speed of answers counts 0.36*
Visual effects 0.34
Competition 0.31
Variability difficulty level 0.17
Cooperation 0.02
Fantasy 0.06
Graphic game 0.38*
Math game -0.2
Word game -0.38

It is noted that those correlations marked with ** have 98% confidence (p<0.02) and
those marked with * have 95% confidence(p<0.05). If (p<0.05), one can not state with any confidence that there is any correlation, any observed correlation is statistically insignificant because of the sample size.

Malone and Lepper are often quoted on the importance of endogenous fantasy. It is noteworthy that in this study, fantasy had no effect on player preference whatever.

Also, this study finds no correlation with cooperation. Cooperation is often quoted by higher level players of World of Warcraft as a strong motivator. WoW is highly successful with more than 6 million paid subscribers It should be noted that at the time of the study, 1981, computer games were quite unsophisticated by today's standards.

Habgood conducted an experiment to see if children would create a learning game with endogenous or exogenous fantasy, they created games without fantasy. This indicates that fantasy may not play an inportant role in motivation.

Also, there was little evidence of fantasy in games made in a computer club,

Malone & Lepper go on to say "fantasy ... is clearly important in many kinds of intrinsically motivating activities, such as computer games, television, reading, and dramatic play (cf Singer 1973)" (Singer 1973 The child's World of make-believe

I have not read Singer's book but I doubt Singer was commenting on computer games, computer games barely, if at all, existed then

Many computer games have a back story, often told in the opening cinematics, but I doubt it plays a major factor in most gamers' enjoyment.

Did Malone & Lepper ignore their own data? It looks a bit as if they allowed their own assumptions to override their experimental data.

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Blogger Unknown said...

In discussions, Richard Van Eck suggests that fantasy is not the same as narrative. That is you could immerse yourself in a game like World of Warcraft, with its 3D graphics, you could suspend disbelief, without caring at all about the back story of the land of Azeroth.

What then is fantasy? We need to understand what it is before trying to introduce endogenous fantasy into games.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008 2:26:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Two references on fantasy , thanks to Brock Dubbels:

A Child's Work: The Importance of Fantasy Play: Books: Vivian Gussin Paley by Vivian Gussin Paley.

UCLA Journal of Education and Information Studies

More than a Child’s Work: Framing Teacher Discourse about Play Karen Wohlwend

Wednesday, January 30, 2008 10:50:00 AM  
Anonymous HCL said...

You may be happier with a later paper that demonstrates a link between fantasy and learning.

Parker, L. E., & Lepper, M. R. (1992). Effects of fantasy contexts on children’s learning and motivation: Making learning more fun. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 62, 625-633

Thursday, January 21, 2010 3:18:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

thanks HCL. I can't download the paper but the abstract is interesting:

Two studies examined the effects of embedding instructional materials in relevant fantasy contexts on children's motivation and learning. In Study 1, Ss showed marked preferences for computer-based educational programs that involved fantasy elements. In Study 2, Ss worked with these programs for 5 hr. One program presented purely abstract problems. Others presented identical problems within fantasy contexts. Some Ss chose among 3 fantasies; others were assigned identical fantasies. Tests on the material occurred before, immediately after, and 2 weeks after the experimental sessions. Ss showed significantly greater learning and transfer in the fantasy than in the no-fantasy conditions. Having a choice of fantasies made no difference. Motivational and individualization strategies for enhancing interest and promoting learning are discussed.

Thursday, January 21, 2010 6:01:00 PM  
Blogger matangdilis said...

I don't know if this paper is the same as above as it is 5 years older but with similar title.

Parker, L., & Lepper, M.R. (1987). The effects of fantasy context on children's learning and motivation. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Psychological Association, New York, New York, August 28-September 1, 1987.

The full article is available here:

preview tinyurl:

Sunday, June 20, 2010 1:45:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

thanks for thay link

Thursday, July 01, 2010 12:03:00 AM  

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