About this paper

Appears in:
Pages: 4535-4547
Publication year: 2010
ISBN: 978-84-614-2439-9
ISSN: 2340-1095

Conference name: 3rd International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 15-17 November, 2010
Location: Madrid, Spain

CERTAINTY OR UNCERTAINTY IN LEARNING? A STUDY ON COMPUTER GAMING INVOLVING CHILDREN

S. Demetriou

University of Bristol (UNITED KINGDOM)
The grounds for the involvement of uncertainty and doubt in learning situations have early origins, with Dewey (1933) noting that “the origin of thinking is some perplexity, confusion, or doubt”. Wong (2007), theorizing on Dewey’s beliefs, proposes that uncertainty and anticipation in general, defined as the imaginative sensing of possibility, is an important motivation construct.

Research of both educational and psychological nature regarding effective learning especially in formal settings, suggests that elements of uncertainty act as motivators for learning. Particularly, as Sorrentino & Roney (2000) suggest, students’ involvement in uncertain situations, epistemic curiosity through collaborative learning, and encouragement of discovery should be promoted and encouraged to achieve effective learning. In particular, the researchers support that “if such uncertainty is created, by whatever means, the organism will be motivated to reduce it in order to achieve greater understanding”. However, purely educational research has rarely focused itself specifically on the motivational role of uncertainty. Uncertainty has been frequently associated though with better well-researched concepts such as cognitive conflict which is often “associated with and evoked by” Dewey’s (1933) “perplexity, confusion and doubt” (Zaslavsky, 2005).

This study aimed at exploring the role of uncertainty in learning as a factor of motivation and engagement. In particular, the investigation of the motivational impact of uncertainty was framed in a specific educational computer game especially designed for the purposes of this study that allowed a thorough examination of uncertainty. Specifically, the investigation focused on the identification of motivation arising by uncertainty juxtaposing students’ preference together with their experiential assertions and their expressional reactions during their interaction with the computer-based task. The research was conducted in school settings with fifty 11-12 year old student participants performing the computer-based gaming task. Researchers examined whether, when and how students chose uncertainty in the specific learning context.

In response to the initial research question which sought to investigate the way uncertainty impacts on students’ motivation in a computer-game-learning environment, findings seemed to favour a positive influence. There was a statistically significant difference between students’ choice in certain and uncertain options in the computer game with preference towards uncertain ones (χ2=77.976; df=1; p<0.0001). Generally, students demonstrated a progressively increasing preference for the uncertain path despite their increasing awareness that the probability to earn points from either pathway was the same. This increasing trend in their preference proved to be dissociated with the questions’ level of difficulty. Additionally, data analysis revealed that students’ reflections associated their preference for uncertainty with the emotional-affective component of reward, i.e. they provided pleasure-related explanations, in spite some frustration observed in the absence of reward. Thus, their preference for uncertainty appeared associated with both “wanting” and “liking” it, so that it was associated with both motivational incentives and reward-related pleasure.
@InProceedings{DEMETRIOU2010CER,
author = {Demetriou, S.},
title = {CERTAINTY OR UNCERTAINTY IN LEARNING? A STUDY ON COMPUTER GAMING INVOLVING CHILDREN},
series = {3rd International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation},
booktitle = {ICERI2010 Proceedings},
isbn = {978-84-614-2439-9},
issn = {2340-1095},
publisher = {IATED},
location = {Madrid, Spain},
month = {15-17 November, 2010},
year = {2010},
pages = {4535-4547}}
TY - CONF
AU - S. Demetriou
TI - CERTAINTY OR UNCERTAINTY IN LEARNING? A STUDY ON COMPUTER GAMING INVOLVING CHILDREN
SN - 978-84-614-2439-9/2340-1095
PY - 2010
Y1 - 15-17 November, 2010
CI - Madrid, Spain
JO - 3rd International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
JA - ICERI2010 Proceedings
SP - 4535
EP - 4547
ER -
S. Demetriou (2010) CERTAINTY OR UNCERTAINTY IN LEARNING? A STUDY ON COMPUTER GAMING INVOLVING CHILDREN, ICERI2010 Proceedings, pp. 4535-4547.
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