Emotions on Learning with Technology
Previous work has identified the many difficulties that students experience in learning abstract concepts in STEM. Past studies have also identified the critical role that emotions play on students' motivation to learn. As new learning technologies are developed, they enable visualizing complex scientific concepts which can be non-visible thus assisting students' understanding of abstract ideas as well as improving their motivation as they learn. This study investigated two learning technologies and compared them to examine 1) their effectiveness on learning concepts of electricity in physics and 2) the interplay between learning with technology and emotions. Participants were randomly assigned to either Inquiry-Based Learning (IBL) with a computer simulation or Game-Based Learning (GBL) with a computer game which addressed concepts of electricity in physics. During the experiment, students in the IBL condition explored materials by using the computer simulation and posed hypotheses and questions on their own with a guiding worksheet for IBL. Students in the GBL condition played an educational computer game following the guiding worksheet while they were meeting challenges created by the game with a guiding worksheet for GBL. Students' learning gains were assessed by comparing their pretest and posttest scores. Emotions were self-reported after the posttest by responding to a survey that measured 6 emotional scales that students may perceive during the experiment. The study found that both IBL and GBL enhanced students' understanding of given concepts. However, there was no statistically significant difference between the two conditions in terms of learning gains. Students in the IBL achieved higher mean learning gains, whereas students in the GBL showed that they were more engaged. At the same time, students in the GBL perceived more confusion and frustration compared to students in the IBL.