Using RPG-Based Learning Environment to Increase Engagement and Motivation for Learning Higher Mathematics
Keywords:KS3 to KS5 maths, Higher level maths, Game-based learning, Immersive games, Mathematics games, Interactive player experience
Although game-based learning has been introduced in various fields, there appears to be a lack of engaging computer games that incorporate higher maths learning (Anagnostopoulou, 2021). This paper presents an exploration of how fantasy-based narrative and storytelling, through role-playing and game mechanics, can be used to increase engagement and motivation for learning higher mathematics in a role-playing game (RPG) based learning environment. As part of this research, the project developed an RPG with incorporated mathematical techniques. Players/learners access the fictional world, controlling in-game characters. Learning evolves via a storyline and six mechanics, progressively building knowledge of derivatives using puzzles with shapes, which gradually fade to the abstract notion of mathematical functions. An experiment was conducted to test the research hypothesis that an RPG based around a quest structure with concreteness fading can enable students to get a better understanding of higher mathematics in the area of differentiation without impeding their entertainment. Participants were recruited from various backgrounds and levels of mathematical knowledge and gaming experience. Data was collected through observations, interviews and two questionnaires: one to be completed before playing the game and the other after. This paper is mainly focused on the qualitative outcomes of the research. The results suggest that the method is effective, with serious learning taking place. The participants reported that they had found the game to be fun and a useful way to learn maths. Moreover, it is revealed that a PRG-based learning environment can increase engagement and motivation for learning higher maths, without invalidating entertainment. The findings have implications for the design, implementation, and evaluation of game-based learning environments for higher mathematics. The paper concludes that this approach has the potential to provide a more immersive, engaging learning experience and increase motivation for learning. Finally, recommendations on how to improve the current game as well as more bold and optimistic ideas for enhanced immersive game builds are suggested.