Signaling in Disciplinarily-Integrated Games: Challenges in Integrating Proven Cognitive Scaffolds Within Game Mechanics to Promote Representational Competence

  • Satyugjit S. Virk
  • Douglas B. Clark


Years of research has demonstrated the efficacy of signals as scaffolds in multimedia and as visual cues in physics diagrams. The design principles for integrating such signals into digital games for learning has not been explored in similar depth. An experimental study was conducted with sixty-nine middle schoolers to assess the efficacy of using a signaling approach to direct learners’ attention to key conceptual elements within a multi-representational Newtonian physics game, SURGE Symbolic. One condition received signals integrated into the gaming environment, while one did not. Analyses demonstrated that students receiving signals scored significantly worse on posttests than non-signaled students and demonstrated less efficient gaming behaviors beyond the levels that integrated the signals. The chapter concludes with a discussion of how the design principles might be refined to leverage the proven affordances of signaling.


Signaling Scaffold Game 



This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 1119290. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Satyugjit S. Virk
    • 1
  • Douglas B. Clark
    • 2
  1. 1.Vanderbilt UniversityNashvilleUSA
  2. 2.University of CalgaryCalgaryCanada

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