The Role of Curiosity-Triggering Events in Game-Based Learning for Mathematics

  • Pieter WoutersEmail author
  • Herre van Oostendorp
  • Judith ter Vrugte
  • Sylke Vandercruysse
  • Ton de Jong
  • Jan Elen
Part of the Advances in Game-Based Learning book series (AGBL)


In this study, we investigate whether cognitive conflicts induced by curiosity-triggering events have a positive impact on learning and motivation. In two experiments, we tested a game about proportional reasoning for secondary prevocational students. Experiment 1 used a curiosity-triggering vs. control condition pretest–posttest design. The control condition received the game without curiosity-triggering events. The results provided evidence that the game improves proportional reasoning skills. Although game performance was positively related to posttest performance, the hypothesized higher increase in learning and motivation after curiosity-triggering events was not found. Based on the results of Experiment 1, the game was adapted. Experiment 2 showed basically the same pattern of results, but we did not find a learning effect after playing the game. In the Discussion, we suggest additional research with think-aloud and/or eye-tracking to map the actual thoughts after the curiosity-triggering events. In addition, we propose some alternative implementations to evoke cognitive conflicts.


Curiosity Game-based learning Cognition Motivation Mathematics 



This research is funded by the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (project Number No. 411-00-003).


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Pieter Wouters
    • 1
    Email author
  • Herre van Oostendorp
    • 1
  • Judith ter Vrugte
    • 2
  • Sylke Vandercruysse
    • 3
  • Ton de Jong
    • 2
  • Jan Elen
    • 3
  1. 1.Institute of Information and Computing SciencesUtrecht UniversityUtrechtThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Department of Instructional TechnologyUniversity of TwenteEnschedeThe Netherlands
  3. 3.Center for Instructional Psychology & Technology, KU LeuvenLeuvenBelgium

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