Home > Research > Project 8

Assessing Affective Processes and Learning in Newton’s Playground



  • Valerie Shute (Florida State U., Theme 3)
  • Reinhard Pekrun (Ludwig-Maximilians U., Theme 2)
  • James Lester (North Carolina State U., Theme 2)


In general, well-designed games are intended to capture and hold the attention of players via interactive problem solving, adaptive challenges, ongoing feedback, player control, specific goals/rules, and sensory stimuli. Well-designed educational games should contain these same features and additionally attempt to support academic knowledge and skills (i.e., content). But sustaining attention is hard. And players differ a lot in terms of the specific attributes (cognitive and noncognitive) that they bring to the game.

Our proposed research aims to examine the interactions among key features of educational games, affective states of the players across time, and learning. The first year of the project (described herein) will lay the foundation for being able to later (in years 2 and 3) conduct valid, in-depth studies on students’ emotions in educational gaming environments. This is a very promising field, especially because these environments often produce intense emotions over time (e.g., frustration, elation, confusion). Towards this end, we want to examine (a) the nature of students’ emotional/motivational processes in these environments, and (b) the impact of these affective variables on the acquisition of competencies promoted by an educational gaming environment (i.e., Crystal Island). The main strength of our proposed project is that it combines three strands of research (technology, assessment, emotions) thus cutting across all three themes of LEADS.