Advertisement

A critical review of digital storyline-enhanced learning

  • Elena NovakEmail author
Development Article

Abstract

Storyline is one of the major motivators that lead people to play video games. However, little empirical evidence exists on the instructional effectiveness of integrating a storyline into digital learning materials. This systematic literature review presents current empirical findings on the effects of a storyline game design element for human learning and performance that were analyzed using a multidimensional approach for classifying storyline outcomes and impacts. Specifically, it addresses two key questions: (a) What types of storyline were empirically examined? and (b) What are the unique affordances of digital storyline-enhanced learning? Only eleven studies that assessed the relative effectiveness of digital story-based interventions as compared to a non-story-based method were found. These findings present mixed results for storyline-related instructional effectiveness and suggest directions for future investigations and also practical guidance for designing effective story-based digital learning environments.

Keywords

Storyline Digital narrative Computer games Game design Engagement Learning outcomes 

Notes

Acknowledgments

I would like to thank Dr. Robert Reiser for his comments on early drafts of this manuscript and Umit Tokac for evaluating the gathered studies for a meta-analysis fit.

References

  1. Asgari, M., & Kaufman, D. (2004). Relationships among computer games, fantasy, and learning. Paper presented at the IERG International Conference.Google Scholar
  2. Bittick, S. J., & Chung, G. K. W. K. (2011). The use of narrative: Gender differences and implications for motivation and learning in a math game. Los Angeles: University of California, National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards, and Student Testing (CRESST).Google Scholar
  3. Boyle, E. A., MacArthur, E. W., Connolly, T. M., Hainey, T., Manea, M., Kärki, A., & van Rosmalen, P. (2014). A narrative literature review of games, animations and simulations to teach research methods and statistics. Computers & Education, 74(0), 1–14. doi: 10.1016/j.compedu.2014.01.004.
  4. Bransford, J. D., Sherwood, R. D., Hasselbring, T. S., Kinzer, C. K., & Williams, S. M. (1990). Anchored instruction: Why we need it and how technology can help. In D. Nix & R. J. Spiro (Eds.), Cognition, education, and multimedia: Exploring ideas in new technology (pp. 115–141). Hillsdale: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.Google Scholar
  5. Bruner, J. (1991). The narrative construction of reality. Critical Inquiry, 18(1), 1–21.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Calleja, G. (2011). In-game: From immersion to incorporation. Cambridge: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  7. Conati, C., & Maclaren, H. (2009). Empirically building and evaluating a probabilistic model of user affect. User Modeling and User-Adapted Interaction, 19(3), 267–303.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Connolly, T. M., Boyle, E. A., MacArthur, E., Hainey, T., & Boyle, J. M. (2012). A systematic literature review of empirical evidence on computer games and serious games. Computers & Education, 59, 661–686.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. DeRouin-Jessen, R. E. (2008). Game on: The impact of game features in computer-based training. PhD Dissertation, University of Central Florida, Orlando.Google Scholar
  10. Federation of American Scientists. (2006). Summit on educational games: Harnessing the power of video games for learning. Washington, DC: Federation of American Scientists.Google Scholar
  11. Garris, R., Ahlers, R., & Driskell, J. E. (2002). Games, motivation, and learning: A research and practice model. Simulation Gaming, 33(4), 441–467. doi: 10.1177/1046878102238607.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Greenwood-Ericksen, A. (2008). Learning African-American history in a synthetic learning environment. PhD Dissertation, University of Central Florida. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/89208380?accountid=4840.
  13. Habgood, M. P. J., Ainsworth, S. E., & Benford, S. (2005). Endogenous fantasy and learning in digital games. Simulation Gaming, 36(4), 483–498.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Harter, S. (1981). A new self-report scale of intrinsic versus extrinsic orientation in the classroom: Motivational and informational components. Developmental Psychology, 17, 300–312.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Herrewijn, L., Poels, K., & Calleja, G. (2013). The relationship between player involvement and immersion: An experimental investigation. Paper presented at the Proceedings of DiGRA 2013: DeFragging Game Studies, Atlanta.Google Scholar
  16. Iuppa, N., & Borst, T. (2007). Story and simulations story and simulations: Tales from the trenches. Burlington: Focal Press.Google Scholar
  17. Jenkins, H. (2004). Game design as narrative architecture, in First Person. In P. Harrigan & N. Wardrip-Fruin (Eds.), New media as story, performance, and game. Cambridge: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  18. Johnson, T. E., Spector, J. M., Huang, W.-h. D., & Novak, E. (2007). Instructional gaming effects on learning outcomes and instructional strategy selection. Technical Report prepared for Conventional Training versus Game-Based Training Project, Naval Air Warfare Center, Training Systems Division and JXT, Inc, Dayton, OH.Google Scholar
  19. Kinzer, C. K., Hoffman, D., Turkay, S., Gunbas, N., Chantes, P., Dvorkin, T., et al. (2011). The impact of choice and feedback on learning, motivation, and performance in an educational video game. In C. Martin, A. Ochsner, & K. Squire (Eds.), Proceedings, GLS 8.0 Games + Learning + Society Conference (pp. 175–182). Madison: ETC Press.Google Scholar
  20. Koenig, A. D. (2008). Exploring effective educational video game design: The interplay between narrative and game-schema construction. PhD Dissertation, Arizona State University.Google Scholar
  21. Laaksolahti, J. (2008). Plot, spectacle and experience: Contributions to the design and evaluation of interactive storytelling. Ph.D, Stockholm University.Google Scholar
  22. Laurel, B. (1993). Computers as theatre. Wokingham: Addison-Wesley.Google Scholar
  23. Lee, K. M. (2004). Presence, explicated. Communication Theory, 14(1), 27–50.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Lee, C.-Y., & Chen, M.-P. (2009). A computer game as a context for non-routine mathematical problem solving: The effects of type of question prompt and level of prior knowledge. Computers & Education, 52(3), 530–542.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Lepper, M. R. (1985). Microcomputers in education: Motivational and social issues. American Psychologist, 40(1), 1–18.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Lepper, M. R., & Malone, T. W. (1987). Intrinsic motivation and instructional effectiveness in computer-based education. In R. E. Snow & M. J. Farr (Eds.), Aptitude, learning, and instruction: III. Conative and affective process analyses (pp. 255–296). Hillsdale: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  27. Lesgold, A. M. (1982). Computer games for the teaching of reading. Behavior Research Methods & Instrumentation, 14, 224–226.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Malone, T. W. (1980). What makes things fun to learn? A study of intrinsically motivating computer games. Palo Altao: Xerox Palo Alto Research Center.Google Scholar
  29. Malone, T. W. (1981). Toward a theory of intrinsically motivating instruction. Cognitive Science, 4, 333–369.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Malone, T. W., & Lepper, (1987). Making learning fun: A taxonomy of intrinsic motivations for learning. In R. E. Snow & M. J. Farr (Eds.), Aptitude, learning, and instruction (Vol. 3, pp. 223–253). Hillsdale: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.Google Scholar
  31. Marchiori, E. J., Torrente, J., Blanco, Á. d., Moreno-Ger, P., Sancho, P., & Fernández-Manjón, B. (2012). A narrative metaphor to facilitate educational game authoring. Computers & Education, 58(1), 590–599.Google Scholar
  32. McKee, R. (2005). Story—Substance, structure, style and the principles of screenwriting. York: Methuen Publishing.Google Scholar
  33. Miller, C. H. (2004). Digital storytelling: A creator’s guide to interactive entertainment: Elsevier/Focal Press.Google Scholar
  34. Moreno, R., & Mayer, R. E. (2005). Role of guidance, reflection, and interactivity in an agent- based multimedia game. Journal of Educational Psychology, 97(1), 117–128.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Nathan, M. J., Kintsch, W., & Young, E. (1992). A theory of algebra-word-problem comprehension and its implications for the design of learning environments. Cognition and Instruction, 9(4), 329–389.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Novak, E. (2014a). Effects of simulation-based learning on students’ statistical factual, conceptual, and application knowledge. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 30(2), 148–158.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Novak, E. (2014b). Toward a mathematical model of motivation, volition, and performance. Computers & Education, 74, 73–80.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Novak, E., Johnson, T. E., Tenenbaum, G., & Shute, V. (2014). Effects of an instructional gaming characteristic on learning effectiveness, efficiency, and engagement: Using a storyline to teach basic statistical skills. Interactive Learning Environments. doi: 10.1080/10494820.2014.881393.Google Scholar
  39. Onwuegbuzie, A. J., Leech, N. L., & Collins, K. M. T. (2012). Qualitative analysis techniques for the review of the literature. The Qualitative Report, 17, 1–28.Google Scholar
  40. Park, N., Lee, K. M., Jin, S. A., & Kang, S. (2010). Effects of pre-game stories on feelings of presence and evaluation of computer games. International Journal of Human-Computer Studies, 68, 822–833.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Parker, L. E., & Lepper, M. R. (1992). Effects of fantasy contexts on children’s learning and motivation: Making learning more fun. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 62(4), 625–633.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Prensky, M. (2001). Why games engage us. Retrieved February 15 2010, from http://www.marcprensky.com/writing/Prensky%20-%20Why%20Games%20Engage%20Us.pdf.
  43. Rouse, R. (2005). Game design: Theory and practice. Plano: Jones & Bartlett Publishers.Google Scholar
  44. Spires, H. A., Turner, K. A., Rowe, J., Mott, B., & Lester, J. (2010). Game-based literacies and learning: Towards a transactional theoretical perspective. Paper presented at the American Educational Research Association (AERA), Denver, CO.Google Scholar
  45. Stevens, C., & Bavelier, D. (2012). The role of selective attention on academic foundations: A cognitive neuroscience perspective. Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience, 25, S30–S48.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Sung, Y.-T., Chang, K.-E., Lee, Y.-H., & Yu, W.-C. (2008). Effects of a mobile electronic guidebook on visitors’ attention and visiting behaviors. Educational Technology & Society, 11(2), 67–80.Google Scholar
  47. Sweller, J. (1994). Cognitive load theory, learning difficulty, and instructional design. Learning and Instruction, 4, 295–312.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Walkington, C., Clinton, V., Ritter, S., Nathan, M., & Fancsali, S. E. (2014). The impact of cognitive and non-cognitive text-based factors on solving mathematics story problems. In Proceedings of the 7th International Conference on Educational Data Mining. London, UK.Google Scholar
  49. Walkington, C., Sherman, M., & Petrosino, A. (2012). “Playing the game” of story problems: Coordinating situation-based reasoning with algebraic representation. The Journal of Mathematical Behavior, 31(2), 174–195.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Wilson, K. A., Bedwell, W. L., Lazzara, E. H., Salas, E. C., Burke, S., Estock, J. L., & Conkey, C. (2009). Relationships between game attributes and learning outcomes: Review and research proposals. Simulation & Gaming, 40(2), 217–266.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Wroten, C. (2014). Win over your e-Learners with storytelling. Retrieved February 18 2015, from http://elearningindustry.com/win-over-your-e-learners-with-storytelling.

Copyright information

© Association for Educational Communications and Technology 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Teacher EducationWestern Kentucky UniversityBowling GreenUSA

Personalised recommendations