Evaluating learners' motivational and cognitive processing in an online game-based learning environment

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This paper describes the process and results of an evaluation on an online game-based learning environment (GBLE) by focusing on learners' motivational processing and cognitive processing. The goal is to explore how online GBLE might initiate and support learners' goal-setting activities and impact learners' cognitive loads. The study surveyed 144 undergraduate students after their autonomous participation in the online game available at the Nobel Prize Foundation website teaching the Heckscher-Ohlin Theory on international trade. Grounded in the integrative theory of motivation, volition, and performance (MVP), the evaluation indicated that participants felt significantly confident in learning the subject. The perceived satisfaction, however, was lower than the rest of motivational components possibly due to heavy cognitive processing. The finding of cognitive load reported that learners perceived a significantly higher level of intrinsic load than the germane load due to the novelty of the subject matter. Data analysis further indicated a significant canonical correlation between learners' motivational and cognitive processing. This particular finding could inform future research to investigate specific motivational processing components' effects on learners' cognitive load levels in online GBLEs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)694-704
Number of pages11
JournalComputers in Human Behavior
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2011


  • Cognitive load
  • Game-based learning
  • Mental effort investment
  • Motivation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Psychology(all)


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