Unlocking the Tablet: Parasocial Interactions and Scaffolding Found in Interactive Educational Games
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractThe present study examined whether the exposure to likeable characters and educational content would affect the attitudes and behaviors of children after playing an educational children's game. The parasocial interaction (PSI) experienced by children was measured between children playing an educational game with interactive characters and those children who watched videos with the same character. This study also investigated the presence of mediated scaffolding provided by the interactive character in the educational game. A three group between subjects experimental design was employed. Subjects were randomly assigned to play an educational game, watch a video, or color on a tablet for 10 minutes. They were asked a series of questions about their experience on the tablet and the interaction with the character and then offered an educational prize or non-educational prize at the end. This study found that children in both the educational game and video condition reported experiencing a PSI with the character Alpha-Pig. Additionally, it was found that when kindergarteners were exposed to the educational game and the educational video, they chose an educational reward more often than the control group. This study also found that with this particular age group and the use of tablets, there were many findings that were impacted by a ceiling effect: children in all groups scored high on the educational worksheet and showed high levels of motivation for current and future learning. These findings support past PSI research, showing that children are experiencing a PSI while interacting with a likeable character in an educational game. Additionally, this study adds to the understanding of scaffolding, extending its effects from only personal interactions to mediated interactions. Ultimately, this study helps parents and teachers to understand the importance of likeable characters in educational games for children.
Degree ProgramGraduate College