Document Type: Original Research Paper


University of North Texas


In this paper, we study intrinsic vs. extrinsic motivation in players playing an electrical engineering gaming environment. We used UNTANGLED, a highly interactive game to conduct this study. This game is developed to solve complex mapping problem from electrical engineering using human intuitions. Our goal is to find whether there are differences in the ways anonymous players solved electrical engineering puzzles in an electronic gaming environment when motivated to play competitively, as compared to self-regulated play. For our experiments, we used puzzles from four games from UNTANGLED. A one-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) was calculated on participants’ scores, type of plays, number of plays, and time spent playing, as both self-regulated and competitive players. We also examined difference between the type of moves used by the competitive and self-regulated players. Our results support the theory of motivation as being internally embedded in learners. The results also demonstrate that a self-regulated learner does not require motivation to improve one’s performance.


Main Subjects

[1]Middleton, J.A. and Spanias, P.A., 2002. Findings from research on motivation in mathematics education: What matters in coming to value mathematics. Lessons learned from research, 30(9).
[2] Kim, B., 2015. Designing Gamification in the Right Way. Library Technology Reports, 51(2), pp.29-35.
[3] Ciampa, K., 2014. Learning in a mobile age: an investigation of student motivation. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 30(1), pp.82-96.
[4] Phillips, V. and Popović, Z., 2012. More than child's play: Games have potential learning and assessment tools. Phi Delta Kappan, 94(2), pp.26-30.
[5] Williams, D.L., 2007. A Unique Review Strategy that Motivates Student Learning. InSight: A Collection of Faculty Scholarship, 2, pp.64-69.
[6] Felicia, P., 2009. Modelling players’ behaviours and learning strategies in video games. In Proceedings of the 3rd European conference on games-based learning (pp. 120-123). Reading, UK: Academic Publishing.
[7] Plass, J.L., O'keefe, P.A., Homer, B.D., Case, J., Hayward, E.O., Stein, M. and Perlin, K., 2013. The impact of individual, competitive, and collaborative mathematics game play on learning, performance, and motivation. Journal of educational psychology, 105(4), p.1050.
[8] Vandercruysse, S., Vandewaetere, M., Cornillie, F. and Clarebout, G., 2013. Competition and students’ perceptions in a game-based language learning environment. Educational Technology Research and Development, 61(6), pp.927-950.
[9] Matsuda, N., Yarzebinski, E., Keiser, V., Raizada, R., Stylianides, G.J. and Koedinger, K.R., 2013. Studying the effect of a competitive game show in a learning by teaching environment. International Journal of Artificial Intelligence in Education, 23(1-4), pp.1-21.
[10] Franken, R.E. and Brown, D.J., 1995. Why do people like competition? The motivation for winning, putting forth effort, improving one's performance, performing well, being instrumental, and expressing forceful/aggressive behavior. Personality and individual differences, 19(2), pp.175-184.
[11] Gredler, G.R., 1991. KOHN, A, 1986. No contest: The case against competition. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 257 pp., Psychology in the Schools, 28(2), pp.182-183.
[12] Cantador, I. and Conde, J.M., 2010. Effects of competition in education: A case study in an e-learningenvironment.
[13] Worm, B.S. and Buch, S.V., 2014. Does competition work as a motivating factor in e-learning? A randomized controlled trial. PloS one, 9(1), p.e85434.
[14] Sternberg, H. and Baalsrud-Hauge, J., 2015. Does competition with monetary prize improve student learning? – An exploratory study on extrinsic motivation. In Lunds universitets utvecklingskonferens, 2015. Lund University.
[15] Terry, L., Roitch, V., Tufail, S., Singh, K., Taraq, O., Luk, W. and Jamieson, P., 2009, July. Harnessing Human Computation Cycles for the FPGA Placement Problem. In ERSA (Vol. 9, pp. 188-194).
[16] Von Ahn, L. and Dabbish, L., 2004, April. Labeling images with a computer game. In Proceedings of the SIGCHI conference on Human factors in computing systems (pp. 319-326). ACM.
[17] Von Ahn, L., Blum, M. and Langford, J., 2004. Telling humans and computers apart automatically. Communications of the ACM, 47(2), pp.56-60.
[18Von Ahn, L., Ginosar, S., Kedia, M., Liu, R. and Blum, M., 2006, April. Improving accessibility of the web with a computer game. In Proceedings of the SIGCHI conference on Human Factors in computing systems (pp. 79-82). ACM.
[19] Von Ahn, L., Liu, R. and Blum, M., 2006, April. Peekaboom: a game for locating objects in images. In Proceedings of the SIGCHI conference on Human Factors in computing systems (pp. 55-64). ACM.
[20] Von Ahn, L. and Dabbish, L., 2008. Designing games with a purpose. Communications of the ACM, 51(8), pp.58-67.
[21] Sunstein, C.R., 2006. Infotopia: How many minds produce knowledge. Oxford University Press.
[22] Surowiecki, J., 2005. The wisdom of crowds. Anchor.
[23] Michelucci, P. ed., 2013. Handbook of human computation (Vol. 2, No. 3). New York: Springer.
[24] Stork, D.G. and Lam, C.P., 2000, July. Open Mind Animals: Ensuring the quality of data openly contributed over the World Wide Web. In AAAI Workshop on Learning with Imbalanced Data Sets (pp. 4-9).
[25Hearst, M.A., Hunson, R.D. and Stork, D.G., 1999. Building intelligent systems one e-citizen at a time. IEEE Intelligent Systems and their Applications, 14(3), pp.16-20.
[26] Stork, D.G., 1999, September. Character and document research in the open mind initiative. In Document Analysis and Recognition, 1999. ICDAR'99. Proceedings of the Fifth International Conference on (pp. 1-12). IEEE.
[27Cooper, S., Khatib, F., Treuille, A., Barbero, J., Lee, J., Beenen, M., Leaver-Fay, A., Baker, D. and Popović, Z., 2010. Predicting protein structures with a multiplayer online game. Nature, 466(7307), p.756.
[28] Cooper, S., Treuille, A., Barbero, J., Leaver-Fay, A., Tuite, K., Khatib, F., Snyder, A.C., Beenen, M., Salesin, D., Baker, D. and Popović, Z., 2010, June. The challenge of designing scientific discovery games. In Proceedings of the Fifth international Conference on the Foundations of Digital Games (pp. 40-47). ACM.
[29] Van Eck, R., 2006. Digital game-based learning: It's not just the digital natives who are restless. EDUCAUSE review, 41(2), p.16.
[30] Anupam, A., Gupta, R., Naeemi, A. and JafariNaimi, N., 2018. Particle in a Box: An Experiential Environment for Learning Introductory Quantum Mechanics. IEEE Transactions on Education, 61(1), pp.29-37.
[31] Klopfer, E., Scheintaub, H., Huang, W., Wendel, D. and Roque, R., 2009. The simulation cycle: Combining games, simulations, engineering and science using StarLogo TNG. E-Learning and Digital Media, 6(1), pp.71-96.
[32] Chen, N.S., Hung, I.C. and Wei, C.W., 2010, April. Developing Ubiquitous Learning System with Robots for Children. In the Third IEEE International Conference on Digital Game and Intelligent Toy Enhanced Learning (pp. 61-68). IEEE.
[33] Cagiltay, N.E., Ozcelik, E. and Ozcelik, N.S., 2015. The effect of competition on learning in games. Computers & Education, 87, pp.35-41.
[34] Burguillo, J.C., 2010. Using game theory and competition-based learning to stimulate student motivation and performance. Computers & Education, 55(2), pp.566-575.
[35] Ke, F. and Grabowski, B., 2007. Gameplaying for maths learning: cooperative or not? British Journal of Educational Technology, 38(2), pp.249-259.
[36] López-Fernández, D., Alarcón, P. P., & Tovar, E. (2015, March). Motivation in engineering education a framework supported by evaluation instruments and enhancement resources. In Global Engineering Education Conference (EDUCON), 2015 IEEE (pp. 421-430). IEEE.
[37] Marasco, E., Behjat, L., Eggermont, M., Rosehart, W., Moshirpour, M., & Hugo, R. (2016, October). Using gamification for engagement and learning in electrical and computer engineering classrooms. In Frontiers in Education Conference (FIE), 2016 IEEE (pp. 1-4). IEEE.
[38] Mehta, G., Crawford, C., Luo, X., Parde, N., Patel, K., Rodgers, B., Sistla, A.K., Yadav, A. and Reisner, M., 2013. Untangled: A game environment for discovery of creative mapping strategies. ACM Transactions on Reconfigurable Technology and Systems (TRETS), 6(3), p.13.