Building virtual cities, inspiring intelligent citizens: Digital games for developing students' problem solving and learning motivation

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149 Citations (Scopus)


This study investigates the effectiveness digital game-based learning (DGBL) on students' problem solving, learning motivation.; academic achievement. In order to provide substantive empirical evidence, a quasi-experimental design was implemented over the course of a full semester (23 weeks). Two ninth-grade Civics and Society classes, with a total of 44 students (15-16 years old), were randomly assigned to one of two conditions: an experimental group (incorporating DGBL) and a comparison group (taught using traditional instruction). Two-way mixed ANOVA was employed to evaluate changes in problem solving ability and compare the effectiveness the two strategies, while ANCOVA was used to analyze the effects on learning motivation and academic achievement. The results of this study are summarized as follows: (1) The DGBL strategy was clearly effective in promoting students' problem solving skills, while the control group showed no improvement. Additionally, data from the mid-test and post-test demonstrate that, as a higher order thinking skill, problem-solving requires a full semester to develop. (2). DGBL resulted in better learning motivation for students in the experimental group as compared to learners receiving TI. (3) Contrary to some suggestions that digital games could inhibit academic achievement, no statistically significant difference was found between the two groups. Most importantly, the quantitative improvement in problem-solving and learning motivation suggest that DGBL can be exploited as a useful and productive tool to support students in effective learning while enhancing the classroom atmosphere. Future research in DGBL should emphasize the evaluation of other higher order elements of the cognitive domain in terms of academic achievement outcomes and skills, such as critical and creative thinking.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)365-377
Number of pages13
JournalComputers and Education
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2012 Sep

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Computer Science(all)
  • Education


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