Using Narrative as a Motivational and Pedagogic Device

in Computer Based Learning



Atif Waraich

Dept. of Information Management & Communication, Liverpool Hope University College, Liverpool, UK and

Computer Based Learning Unit, University of Leeds, Leeds, UK



There is increasing interest in the use of computer based learning systems at all levels of education but particularly at the tertiary level. Many systems make use of hypermedia and often assume that the introduction of elements such as sound, graphics, video and still images within such systems will increase students' motivation and desire to learn. However, the components of hypermedia systems themselves are not intrinsically motivating and additional motivating factors must be built into such systems. Computer games have been observed to motivate users to engage, for long periods of time. The use of such techniques within computer based tutoring systems is considered.

In addition, this paper considers the role that narrative structure could play in computer based learning environments and briefly reviews the underlying educational and cognitive theory, including the use of game based strategies to enhance the learning of complex and abstract concepts and principles. Narrative theory is considered and an appropriate general narrative structure for computer based learning environments is suggested. It is posited that the use of a hand-crafted narrative, based on appropriate theory, could act as a powerful motivational and cognitive aid.

The paper goes on to describe work in progress on a hypermedia computer based learning system that makes use of a strong narrative structure to teach computer architecture to first year undergraduates using "believable" autonomous computer based characters. The required characteristics of such believable social agents within such an environment are reviewed and the implications of their use considered in relation to learning styles.

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