Date of Graduation
Eberly College of Arts and Sciences
Elizabeth L Cohen
Matthew M Martin
Despite evidence that game-based instruction is effective, and suggestive evidence that they are specifically effective for teaching systems thinking---the ability to think about complex systems---the mechanisms behind this learning are not well understood. One promising perspective on game-based learning is rooted in the development of mental models of game systems. Mental models are cognitive representations of the perceived entities and relationships between entities in a system. This study explores the entities and entity relationships in novice players' mental models of an analog game. Grounded, interpretive analysis of mental models externalized through cognitive mapping identified five categories of entities: formal game entities, player actions, sociality, learning processes, and subjective experience. Content analysis of the relationships among these entities revealed that complex relationships were rarely identified, as players primarily described simple relationships. The implications of these findings for a) understandings of the nature of games and gameplay and b) effective game-based instruction are discussed.
Wasserman, Joe A., "Board out of Your Mind: Mapping Players' Mental Models of Game Systems and Potentials for Systems-Thinking Instruction" (2016). Graduate Theses, Dissertations, and Problem Reports. 6919.