Balancing cognitive complexity and gaming level: Effects of a cognitive complexity-based competition game on EFL students' English vocabulary learning performance, anxiety and behaviors

Qi-Fan YANG, Shao-Chen CHANG, Gwo-Jen HWANG*, Di ZOU

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

103 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Digital game-based language learning promotes motivation and enables learners to immerse themselves in learning. However, some gaming elements (e.g., competition and challenge) or learning content (e.g., difficulty levels) may have different influences on different learners, especially those with low self-efficacy or academic achievement, as competitive games may lead to frustration. It is therefore important to take students' cognitive capacities into consideration when designing a competitive learning environment, and to provide them with learning content of appropriate cognitive complexity. In the current study, a game-based situational vocabulary learning system that integrated a cognitive complexity-based competition strategy was developed to provide learners with appropriate tasks. A quasi-experiment was conducted in a high school English course to evaluate the effectiveness of the proposed approach. It was found that, compared to the conventional situational gaming approach, the situational game with the cognitive complexity-based competition strategy significantly improved the participants’ learning performance (in particular, that of the low-achieving students), but it also increased their anxiety. Furthermore, the behavioral analysis showed that the students who learned with the proposed approach accomplished the tasks more smoothly, because the system could take into account players' learning performance and adjust the cognitive complexity of the following tasks through upgrading or downgrading the learners' gaming levels to ensure that individual students learned with tasks at appropriate levels for them. On the other hand, the participants who learned with the conventional game-based learning approach had a greater tendency to fail the game repeatedly. Based on the findings and relevant studies, we also discuss suggestions for future research.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103808
Number of pages21
JournalComputers and Education
Volume148
Early online date15 Jan 2020
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2020
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Acknowledgements:
This study is supported in part by the Ministry of Science and Technology of the Republic of China under contract numbers MOST-106-2511-S-011 -005 -MY3 and MOST-108-2511-H-011-005-MY3 .

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Elsevier Ltd

Keywords

  • Cooperative/collaborative learning
  • Elementary education
  • Interactive learning environments
  • Teaching/learning strategies

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