The Number Sense Game at Utrecht University

Our recently started project with 3 Post Docs at Utrecht University – as part of one the university focus research areas, Education and Learning Sciences (ELS) – focuses on constructing serious games in the number sense domain (the intuitive
understanding of numbers, their magnitude, and how operations affect them) that will trigger children’s curiosity and, consequently, facilitate learning. Serious games captivate and engage, but for learning to occur appropriate mental
activities should happen, and fostering the appropriate level of curiosity is key.

First, we will develop games training number sense with different curiosity triggering events and investigate experimentally the
learning outcomes compared with traditional instruction (see Berlyne, 1960; Loewestein, 1994). We distinguish between sensory and cognitive curiosity (Malone & Lepper, 1987) and we will examine the influence of both, by systematically adding or omitting (sensory or cognitive) curiosity triggering features.

Secondly, after studying many serious games we are convinced that integration of learning goals on the one hand and gameplay or game mechanics on the other hand, are essential (Habgood & Ainsworth, 2011). Currently we are looking for ways to define more sharply and formalize ways of determining the congruence between what a player has to do (game mechanics) and the goal (or needed mental activities) of the game.

We would appreciate any suggestions of GALA colleagues on curiosity and integration
issues as briefly decribed above.

Herre van Oostendorp, Institute of Information and Computing Sciences, Utrecht University, The Netherlands.
H.vanOostendorp@uu.nl

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