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Connecting Game-Based Learning and Developmental Theory of Play

The following blog post was written by Charles Raffaele and Hamadi Henderson:

We are proud to have published a chapter with Dr. Bruce Homer in the new book Handbook of Game-Based Learning (edited by Plass, Mayer and Homer), titled “Games as Playful Learning: Implications of Developmental Theory for Game-Based Learning”. The chapter argues for a playful learning perspective, in which play is seen as being at the center of game-based learning.

We first discuss foundational theories on the role of play in learning developed by Piaget and Vygotsky. Then, we provide a brief history of games and playful learning, followed by instructive examples of playful learning in major content areas. Existent research from various theoretical approaches on playful learning is incorporated, falling into categories of cognitive, affective and social focuses.

The chapter ends with a concise list of principles aimed at engendering playful learning. These principles acknowledge the elements of intrinsic motivation inherent in playful learning and that playful learning must provide learners a “break” from reality. Additionally, they draw attention to the incorporation of multiple learning theories and the possibilities that new technologies can provide for playful learning. Finally, they highlight that playful learning is just that: the integration of play and learning, where learning and game mechanics match and the game activities are both fun and support learning.

Playful learning is thus seen to form the foundation of game-based learning. There are a number of substantiated ways that the playful learning inherent in game-based learning can be made possible and most advantageously applied. Our chapter as such informs the game-based learning field, and may be of interest to any who wish to know more about what playful learning represents in human life.

Charles Raffaele is a doctoral candidate in the LDI specialization of the educational psychology program at CUNY Graduate Center. His research focuses on multimedia learning, second language learning, and game-based learning. His dissertation explores extension of the redundancy multimedia learning principle to Spanish language learning.

Hamadi Henderson is a doctoral student in the LDI specialization of the educational psychology program at CUNY Graduate Center. His research interests focus on the use of video games and multimedia technology in learning. His dissertation focuses on the use of virtual reality technology as a tool to support pain management of childhood oncology patients.

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