Evaluating scaffolding in serious games with children

Obikwelu, Chinedu Okwudili (2017) Evaluating scaffolding in serious games with children. Doctoral thesis, University of Central Lancashire.

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In scaffolding, full support (guidance) is given to the learner to support weakness and withdrawn bit by bit as learner knowledge fortifies (fading) (Martens & Maciuszek, 2013) . According to Puntambekar & Hubscher (2005), the attributes of scaffolding include diagnosis, calibration and fading. Research work on scaffolding in serious games – games with other purposes other than entertainment, has mainly focused on diagnosis and calibration often referred to in this field as player modelling and adaptivity respectively. There is barely any empirical study investigating fading this in these games. Instead of fading which is the gradual removal of scaffolding, an all-or-nothing approach is often used. The all-or-nothing could lead to cognitive overload in children. For children to have a pleasurable gameplay, it is important the cognitive load is managed effectively. The fundamental question asked in this thesis is “To what extent can scaffolding-fading improve children’s gameplay experience and knowledge gain?” This is broken down to four research questions – 1. Does the gradual removal of guidance improve children’s gameplay experience? 2. What dimensions of gameplay experience are impacted and to what extent are they impacted by the gradual removal of guidance? 3. Would guidance fading during gameplay improve knowledge gain? 4. What effect would inappropriate guidance-fading have on gameplay?
A game in which the scaffolding can be manipulated is designed for this study. A comparative study methodology with a controlled experiment, comparing gameplay in both the gradual removal and the all-or-nothing mode, is employed with the aim of measuring gameplay experience and knowledge gain in these modes. Analytics was also employed to capture performance-related gameplay metrics. These methods were combined for a more substantial explanation of findings.
The key contributions made include – 1. Appropriately implementing guidance-fading for the first time in a game AND highlighting the relevance of this scaffolding mode to serious gameplay

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