Engagement and Motivation Part V: Games Are No Panacea

This is the fifth part of the Engagement and Motivation section of my dissertation lit review:

Games Are No Panacea

Video game scholars caution, though, that not all games will appeal to all students, even those that consider themselves gamers. Squire (2005b), for instance, found that another 25% of students who played Civilization III in school “complained that the game was too hard, complicated, and uninteresting, and they elected to withdraw from the gaming unit and participate in reading groups instead” (p. 2). He also found that “some students (including gamers) rejected the game experience in school… because playing Civilization III in a school context was compulsory” (p. 4). In addition, it is not surprising that video games are not a terribly effective instructional medium for students that consider themselves non-gamers. Littlton (2005) found that students who do not play video games for entertainment were less likely to be motivated by (or learn from) video games in the classroom. Of course, even among students who consider themselves gamers, some will have strong preferences for or against particular video game genres.

Aldrich (2005) also warns against what he calls motivatism, a philosophy of learning “that suggests if a learner is sufficiently motivated, he or she will pick up everything needed on his or her own” (p. 82). Dewey, too, “said that enjoyment on its own is not enough to make an experience education” (Mooney, 2000, p. 15). An educational video game must be more than motivating. It must also support students with a context for learning and opportunities to for inquiry, collaboration, and reflection. These elements are discussed in the following sections.

I’m seeking feedback on this writing, so please let me know what you think in the comments.