Games and Adult Learning

My simulation of muscles and nerves

My simulation of muscles and nerves, an educational tool about Lou gehrig's Disease

Psychological Needs that Determine Motivation

Ways of Knowing our Reality


A desire to know “how”, a desire to be good at a given skill set


To see things as concrete, factual, to accept answers


To want attention, praise, power, love


To assess and find value through others


A desire to have control, independence


Creating and controlling one’s own reality

I agree with Dr. Gee that online, digital, collaborative games will be key teaching tools of the future, used to facilitate learning for both children and adults [Gee, 2005].  People of all ages are more motivated to interact with these games because they satisfy our inherent psychological needs of competency, autonomy, and relatedness [Ryan, 2000].  That is, we can become competent while playing the game, we have autonomous control of our decisions in the game, and we relate to other players who are also in the game.  Kegan (2005) describes adult epistemologies, or ways of knowing that are similar to our psychological needs, those being instrumental, self-authoring, and social. A research topic I am interested in compares these two concepts of  motivation and ways of knowing.

 Motivation and “Ways of Knowing”

What are the specific motivations of a person with an instrumental, social, or self-authoring way of knowing? Is it more about competency? Relatedness? Autonomy?  If a person with a social epistemology ever has more desire for autonomy does this create a transformational shift from a social to a self-authoring perspective?

In addition to satisfying motivation, these games allow for teaching within situations that may not be feasible.  For example, one of my projects is an online game I am developing which allows learners to interact with atoms and molecules within ambient air.  Learners can see the virtual representations of the air pollutants they woke up breathing, with real-time regional data from NOAA (the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association).



One thought on “Games and Adult Learning

  1. Pingback: Games and Adult Learning (via Birdie Champ) | A Teacher's Portfolio & Blog by Layne C. Smith

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s