Media, Schema, and learning though emotional manipulation?

Richard Clark and Robert Kozma have had a long standing debate over the whether different forms of media have effect on pedagogical outcomes. In brief, Clark has published a series of articles such as Clark – Media will never influence learning that state that the teaching method is always the reason for learning to take place, distinct from the media used to employ those methods. Kozma, on the other hand, replies with articles such as Kozma – Will media influence learning which state that different medias have affordances that other do not. While Clark states that the role of the instructional designer is to use the most economic method of teaching methodology, Kozma defends that paticular medias are unique in their abilities.

That said, the question of the definition of learning needs to be addressed. This is where most of the research on the Clark/Kozma debate becomes too challenging to execute. To “know” a paticular fact or piece of content might be different than to “know how” to apply that content to a paticular context. One thing that many people agree on however, is that “knowing” has something to do with the formation of Widmayer – Schema Theory in our brains. Cognitive learning theory would then say that one role of instruction is to create the connection of new material into the existing schema. I am curious about other documented methods for the formation of new schema.

Today I found an interesting article, Cognitive neuroscience of emotional memory, that studies why emotional events often “attain a privileged status in memory.” From a behaviorist standpoint, instruction can solicit positive or negative feedback in order to cement requested behavior into memory. My question continues here because I believe that well designed game experiences have a paticular ability to create an emotional response and therefore create a teachable moment.

Is there any evidence for this theory? I am not sure and I have been unable to find any research that would begin to ask the right questions. However, I have seen a number of references [1][2] [3] that study the emotional responses during play to various types of games. Most of these studies were done from the perspective of self-assessment, though some did various neuroimagining tests to monitor brain activity. Here are some of the interesting summary points:

  • Games are able to solicit motional responses
  • Different games invoked different emotions (James Bond 007 invokes fear and anger, Monkey ball invoked “fun”)
  • Games with Narrative seemed to invoke the most memorable experience

    That said, the next thing to look at is what kinds of emotions may benefit learning and how effictive are games at packaging a learning event with an emotional one.

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