The broader topic of inquiry, at this time, is how does gamification influence learning cognition?  This question encompasses a great deal of cognitive processes.  At this time the body of research has little to no empirical research on how gamification influences cognition as it relates to long term memory.  The reason is it is difficult to draw a trustworthy measure.  As I drill down into the topic my research will be done in a corporate setting for technical training.  Typically, someone that engages in technical training needs to develop an immediate skill that they will use on the job.  If they use this skill regularly on the job; they will create a level of mastery on their own.  Therefore, a measure for long-term memory could not be credited to the initial learning experience.

Another major cognitive function in learning, is working memory.  This direction is fitting since technical training can become overwhelming to a novice, which can contribute to working memory overload.  There are perspectives that can be considered as well.  Topics like the design of learning and the speed of processing or amount of information that can be consumed at one time.  The refined topic of inquiry is; what influence does gamification have on the working memory in technical training?  This might require additional refinement, however appropriate for a literature review since there is only a small body of empirical research available for gamification and the working memory.

A previous literature review investigated; How has gamification been used to improve technical training? Learning success in skill development. This review encountered a common gap in literature, which is how gamification influences cognitive functions.  There was some measure done, however most research focused on how gamification influences engagement, motivation, and attitude.  Logically speaking, if years of research has not addressed this gap, there has to be a reason, and it is very likely not appropriate to pursue.  I’m certainly not the first person to go down the rabbit hole.

I got to this topic of inquiry based on past research.  At Johns Hopkins my literature reviews related to how various design elements influenced cognitive function.  One example, what effect does color have on cognitive processing for online video-based training?  My research indicated the calmness of cool colors put learners at ease and helped the smooth flow of content acquisition, however important elements were missed.  The warm colors are like stop signs, the flow will halt, and more time is spent with content in a color like red.  Another interesting takeaway is adults and children don’t take color in the same way.  Children can look at a green sky and pink grass and continue on with their lesson.  They are still processing what colors should be, so this doesn’t bother them.  Adults will stop when colors aren’t as expected, this color mismatch overloads the working memory.   These findings fueled more questions, which was my motivation to pursue my PhD. I had to learn about how technology driven learning influences cognition.  Circling back, the gap in gamification research makes it appealing since anything I find is relatively new.

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