About this paper

Appears in:
Pages: 6575-6583
Publication year: 2012
ISBN: 978-84-695-3491-5
ISSN: 2340-1117

Conference name: 4th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 2-4 July, 2012
Location: Barcelona, Spain

DESIGN PATTERNS FOR PROMOTING SELF-REFLECTION IN LEARNING GAMES

R. Vacca, M. Bromley

New York University (UNITED STATES)
Self-reflection is an essential part of designing meaningful learning experiences. In formal educational settings one can see the prominent role of reflective practices in efforts to improve self-regulation skills such as goal setting and planning, strategic thinking, and monitoring. In therapeutic settings self-reflection is instrumental to cultivating self-awareness and the overall process of long-term behavioral change. Given self-reflection is so deeply embedded in such a wide variety of learning interventions, there are multitudes of existing methods to promote self-reflection ranging from expressive writing in journals, guided discussions, and portfolio review. However with the emerging use of games and research around their ability to benefit personal aspects of learning, like motivation and engagement, the process of designing games to explicitly promote self-reflection so as to facilitate learning is still fairly nascent.

Yet games are particularly well-suited to promoting self-reflection given their inherent characteristics - rules, choice, feedback, and monitoring - which mirror fundamental components to reflective thinking and practice, despite self-reflection often not being an explicit objective of the learning game. Choices in game spaces prompt constrained decision-making within defined contexts that can be used by game systems to help players meaningfully reflect on decisions in a variety of ways. For example, as players progress throughout a game’s narrative, they engage in a number of decisions that impact the eventual outcome of play; however, they may have very little opportunity to reflect on which decisions mattered most in relation to the larger goals of the game. Similarly, many players often monitor their health status while playing first-player shooters, in effect engaging in self-regulatory monitoring without being aware they are doing so. These interactions are examples of golden opportunities to engage learners in deep meaningful learning by harnessing self-reflection in a more explicit and mediated manner.

Our goal in this paper is to detail game design patterns to promote self-reflection in learning games. We begin with an overview of what scholars have discovered about self-reflection, focusing on research in education and psychology. This is followed by an examination of scholarship on games, with a focus on designing games for learning. The design patterns for self-reflection can be thought of as descriptions of common objectives paired with descriptions of solutions that can be applied, not prescriptively, but as design guides that interrelate user interactions in ways that can promote self-reflection.

For example, some design patterns can be applied at the point of decision-making by manipulating choice valence others by designing choices embedded with strong meaning (whether personal, emotional, narrative-driven or otherwise) that may trigger a “state of doubt” before taking action. Other design patterns can take place ex post facto such as using an aggregation of decisions to help players reflect on behavioral patterns and build self-awareness.

Bearing these design patterns in mind, we conclude the paper by discussing several games from both the commercial and games for learning spaces as they relate to our design patterns for promoting self-reflection in games. The patterns we identify are intended to have direct and practical applications to the design of games to promote self-reflection.
@InProceedings{VACCA2012DES,
author = {Vacca, R. and Bromley, M.},
title = {DESIGN PATTERNS FOR PROMOTING SELF-REFLECTION IN LEARNING GAMES},
series = {4th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies},
booktitle = {EDULEARN12 Proceedings},
isbn = {978-84-695-3491-5},
issn = {2340-1117},
publisher = {IATED},
location = {Barcelona, Spain},
month = {2-4 July, 2012},
year = {2012},
pages = {6575-6583}}
TY - CONF
AU - R. Vacca AU - M. Bromley
TI - DESIGN PATTERNS FOR PROMOTING SELF-REFLECTION IN LEARNING GAMES
SN - 978-84-695-3491-5/2340-1117
PY - 2012
Y1 - 2-4 July, 2012
CI - Barcelona, Spain
JO - 4th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
JA - EDULEARN12 Proceedings
SP - 6575
EP - 6583
ER -
R. Vacca, M. Bromley (2012) DESIGN PATTERNS FOR PROMOTING SELF-REFLECTION IN LEARNING GAMES, EDULEARN12 Proceedings, pp. 6575-6583.
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