Applying Malone’s Motivational Theory and Flow to a Study of Whether Playing Educational Video Games Influences Motivation and Impacts Learning Outcomes in 5th Grade Mathematics
Goodnough, Eric P
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The purpose of this paper is to explore the possibility that using video games as an educational tool will impact student motivation and learning outcomes for mathematics in a 5th grade classroom. It uses relevant literature and qualitative research to investigate if educational video games provide challenge, fantasy, curiosity, and control as a means of influencing intrinsic motivation, using Malone’s Motivational Theory as a theoretical framework. Additionally, it explores similarities between intrinsic motivation and the characteristics suggested for a game to achieve Flow. Flow is a theory based on the balance of player skill and level of challenge, and can be used as a means for measuring how fun a game is. Specifically, this study examines the gaming features available at the learning website Study Island and how they are implemented in a 5th grade elementary school classroom. By conducting semi-structured interviews with teachers who use the website regularly and using existing standardized test scores to evaluate learning outcomes, I compare the emerging themes from these discussions with the suggested results provided by previous literature on the subject. Based on these comparisons, I attempt to answer the following research question: Does playing educational video games influence motivation and impact learning outcomes in 5 th grade mathematics?