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Vicarious Learning with a Digital Educational Game: Eye-Tracking and Survey-Based Evaluation Approaches

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The paper presents an empirical study with a digital educational game (DEG) called 80Days that aims at teaching geographical content. The goal of the study is twofold: (i) investigating the potential of the eye-tracking approach for evaluating DEG; (ii) studying the issue of vicarious learning in the context of DEG. Twenty-four university students were asked to view the videos of playing two micro-missions of 80Days, which varied with regard to the position of the non-player character (NPC) window (i.e. lower right vs. upper left) and the delivery of cognitive hints (i.e. with vs. without) in this text window. Eye movements of the participants were recorded with an eye-tracker. Learning effect and user experience were measured by questionnaires and interviews. Significant differences between the pre- and post-learning assessment tests suggest that observers can benefit from passive viewing of the recorded gameplay. However, the hypotheses that the game versions with cognitive hints and with the NPC window on the upper left corner can induce stronger visual attention and thus better learning effect are refuted.
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... However, for example Kickmeier-Rust, Hillemann, and Albert (2011) have shown that eye tracking can be successfully applied to measure the quality of serious games. Based on eye tracking results Law, Mattheiss, Kickmeier-Rust and Albert (2010) have argued that the layout of the game plays a bigger role than the content in capturing user attention. In general, for game based learning research, eye tracking can provide new knowledge about how learning happens in games, what game elements can be used to enhance learning, how to focus player's attention to important game elements, how to avoid evaluation gulfs and how feedback is perceived and how graphical implementation is perceived . ...
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... However, for example Kickmeier-Rust, Hillemann, and Albert (2011) have shown that eye tracking can be successfully applied to measure the quality of serious games. Based on eye tracking results Law, Mattheiss, Kickmeier-Rust and Albert (2010) have argued that the layout of the game plays a bigger role than the content in capturing user attention. In general, for game based learning research, eye tracking can provide new knowledge about how learning happens in games, what game elements can be used to enhance learning, how to focus player's attention to important game elements, how to avoid evaluation gulfs and how feedback is perceived and how graphical implementation is perceived . ...
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