Author Jamila Adal
Title Design factors affecting learner engagement in educational software.
Institute Thesis (M.Ed.) National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological University
Year 2002
Supervisor Deng, Zongyi
Call no. LB1028.5 Jam
The main purpose of this study was to examine the design factors in educational software that affected the engagement level of children users.  Its research questions are : i. What happens when children play with these educational software products?. ii. how do children perceive these products and the activities involved? and iii. what are the elements in the design of the educational software product that affect the engagement of the user?  A qualitative methodology was adopted which consisted of a software review and an observational study.  Three 10 year-old children participated in this study and three mathematics software titles were used.  The software review evaluated the software to identify their pedagogical features, strengths and shortcomings as instructional tools.  The observational study comprised both participant observations as well as in-depth interviews with the three children.  The participant observations documented the children's interaction and responses to each of the software titles, and analysed the situational factors that influenced their engagement.  The interviews elicited the children's opinions, perceptions and feelings with regard to the software products.

It was found that certain design elements affect the children's engagement in the educational software titles.  One of these was associated with the children's perception of control and challenge in an activity.  Engagement was enhanced when the element of fantasy was introduced; when the user's curiosity was aroused and when children were confident of what to do in an activity.  It was also found that surface appearances, no matter how attractive, could not sustain student engagement in educational software.  The study carries important implications for research and development in relation to software design.