Development and use of a Playful Learning Observation Tool (PLOT) for Active Game-based Learning in Physical Classroom Situations


  • Muriel Algayres Aalborg universitet
  • Olga Timcenko
  • Evangelia Triantafyllou



game-based learning, qualitative data, observation, evaluation tool, motivation


This study presents the development and implementation of a qualitative observation tool for in-class observation of courses employing game-based learning (GBL), and playful learning situations. The design of the observation model exploits a literature review of classroom observation models, of cognitive psychology motivation scales, and of GBL evaluation models. It integrates relevant elements from these domains to offer an observation model for GBL implementation. In this model, in-class observations are coded and analysed for GBL effectiveness and potential to support intrinsic motivation in students. The model was then used in two courses using different forms of GBL (one digital cooperative multiplayer game, one analog board game). Observations were coded using NVivo and distributed according to type of motivation and type of motivated learning tasks. Due to Covid19 restrictions and the difficulties of finding in-person classes, only two courses were examined using the model. The model appeared efficient in both observational situations, and the coding confirmed previous studies to the potential of GBL to sustain students’ intrinsic motivation. The observations also showed that preparedness of students to the specific contents of the game reduced risk of amotivation and disengagement in students. The study allows us to reflect on best practices for GBL implementation and evaluation and how better understanding of in-class interactions during playful learning could enable educators and teachers to make better informed choices to implementing GBL. While there are many templates for classroom observation and GBL evaluation, there is a lack of dedicated observation models, that offer clear guidelines for qualitative data gathering in live, in-person classroom situations. This study aims at providing a specific tool to that purpose.