Video Games, Learning and Cognition

Our research in this area centers on game design and play elements, such as storyline, action, and suspense that improve learning and engagement across various learning environments. We are interested in connecting game design and play elements to specific learning benefits to provide practical recommendations for designing effective learning environments. Recent projects focused on Action Video Games (AVG), such as Unreal Tournament, Halo and Call of Duty – fast-action first- and third-person shooter games. AVG is a game genre characterized by the high speed of game events, a constant need to make predictions regarding future game events, and emphasis on peripheral vision that pose high cognitive, perceptual, and motor loads. Our projects examine the short- and long-term effects of playing AVGs on mathematics learning and cognition. Currently, we are in the process of developing an instrument for identifying and examining AVG characteristics that impact human cognition.

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Related Publications: 

Novak, E., & Soyturk, I.  (2021). Effects of action video game play on arithmetic performance in adults. Perception, 50(1), 52-68.  


Tokac, U., Novak, E., & Thompson, C. (2019). Effects of game-based learning on preK-12 students’ mathematics achievement: A meta-analysis.

Journal of Computer Assisted Learning (JCAL), 35(3), 407-420. . 


Tassell, J., Novak. E., & *Wu, M. (2018). Video game play, mathematics, spatial skills, and creativity – A study of the impact on teacher

candidates. In V. Freiman & J. L. Tassell (Eds.), Creativity and Technology in Mathematics Education, 303-322. Springer International.


Novak, E., Librea-Carden, M.R. & Weiszhauz, Y. (2018). I need a Training Program! Gamification of Online Case-based Learning. In T. Bastiaens,

et al. (Eds.), Proceedings of EdMedia: World Conference on Educational Media and Technology (pp. 1011-1017). Amsterdam, Netherlands: Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE). 


Novak, E., & Tassell, J. (2017). Video games that improve ‘learning to learn’: Focus on action video game play elements. Proceedings of IEEE

17th International Conference on Advanced Learning Technologies – ICALT 2017. (pp. 142-144). Timisuara, Romania. July, 2017. 


Novak, E., & Tassell, J. (2015). Using video game play to improve education-majors' mathematical performance: An experimental study.

Computers in Human Behavior, 53, 124-130.  . 


Novak, E., & Tassell, J. (2015). Using video game play to improve education-majors' mathematical performance: An experimental study.

Computers in Human Behavior, 53, 124-130.  . 


Novak, E., & Tassell, J. (2015). A dataset for education-related majors’ performance measures with pre/post video game practice. British

Journal of Educational Technology, 45(5), 932-936.  . 


Novak, E. (2015). A critical review of digital storyline-enhanced learning. Educational Technology Research & Development, 63(3), 431-453.  . 


Novak, E., & Johnson, T.E. (2015). Design and development of a simulation for testing the effects of instructional gaming characteristics on

learning of basic statistical skills. International Journal of Gaming and Computer-Mediated Simulations, 7(1), 40-59.  . 


Novak, E. (2014). Toward a mathematical model of motivation, volition, and performance. Computers & Education, 74, 73-80.  . 


Novak, E. (2014). Effects of simulation-based learning on students’ statistical factual, conceptual, and application knowledge. Journal of

Computer Assisted Learning, 30(2), 148-158.  . 


Novak, E., Johnson, T. E., Tenenbaum, G., & Shute, V. (2014). Effects of an instructional gaming characteristic on learning effectiveness,

efficiency, and engagement: Using a storyline to teach basic statistical skills. Interactive Learning Environments, 24(3), 523-538.  . 

Novak, E., & Johnson, T. E. (2012). Assessment of student’s emotions in game-based learning. In D. Ifenthaler, D. Eseryel & X. Ge (Eds.),

Assessment in game-based learning: Foundations, innovations, and perspectives. Springer.