A critical review of digital storyline-enhanced learning

  • Elena NovakEmail author
Development Article


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.


Storyline Digital narrative Computer games Game design Engagement Learning outcomes 



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.


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Copyright information

© Association for Educational Communications and Technology 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Teacher EducationWestern Kentucky UniversityBowling GreenUSA

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