The Differences Between Problem-Based and Drill & Practice Games on Motivations to Learn

Menno Deen and Ben A.M. Schouten

NOTE: This paper was selected by the program committee as a Meaningful Play 2014 Top Paper. It has been submitted to the Meaningful Play 2014 Special Issue of the International Journal of Gaming and Computer-Mediated Simulations (IJGCMS). Due to the copyright requirements of the journal, only the abstract is available in the conference proceedings.


We witness two trends in educational game design: a Problem-Based Learning and Drill & Practice Training approach. The general assumption appears to favor Problem-Based approach above Drill & Practice, in regard to players’ motivation. However, the differences between the approaches are seldom studied.

We examined the motivational impact of one game consisting of a Problem-Based-, and a Drill & Practice learning mode. The first presents players with an ill-defined problem and offers various solutions to a challenge. In the Drill & Practice mode there is only one correct answer.

Secondary school students played the game and completed a pre- and post questionnaire about their experienced regulatory style for studying mathematics. Results suggest that the Problem-Based game may decline the experience of feeling controlled by others to engage in mathematics learning. In comparison, players of the Drill & Practice game reported increased intrinsic motivations towards mathematics.