Exploring Reflective Learning in Digital Game-Based Learning: A User Research


  • Anjuman Shaheen University of Brighton
  • Panagiotis Fotaris




Reflective learning has gained popularity as an effective form of education that involves students reflecting on their past experiences to enhance their skills and learning. In recent years, it has been observed that games offer experiential learning and are reflective in nature, making them the ideal medium to integrate reflective learning. With digital games being popular among people of all ages, particularly young adults and children, this study explores the advantages of explicitly incorporating reflective learning into digital game-based learning (GBL) by investigating young adults' perceptions of reflective game design (RGD).

Research suggests that digital games implicitly promote reflective learning by encouraging critical thinking, self-awareness, problem-solving skills, and motivation. Additionally, reflective learning provides immediate feedback to students, promoting self-directed learning. Allowing students to reflect on their gaming experiences can make digital games more immersive, leading to deeper learning.

The study was conducted in two phases. In the first phase, a survey was administered to 101 young adults between the ages of 18 and 24. The survey aimed to get participants' perceptions and acceptance of games exhibiting reflective features such as heads-up displays, screen maps, message prompts, and performance comparison charts. The results showed that 86.5% of participants accepted the idea of reflective game design, indicating a high level of interest in this approach to learning. In the second phase, fifteen in-depth interviews were conducted to explore further participants' perceptions and acceptance of reflection in games. The thematic analysis of the interviews revealed common trends in using reflective game practices to design a new GBL approach. Participants noted that reflective game design can foster deeper learning, promote problem-solving skills, and enhance learning motivation.

This study contributes to developing principles and guidelines for RGD that can assist researchers, educators, and game designers in creating effective educational games. By explicitly incorporating reflective learning into digital GBL, educational games can become more engaging, immersive, and effective in promoting critical thinking, STEM literacy, self-awareness, problem-solving skills, and motivation among students.