Competition as a Driver for Learning


DeVane, Ben, Shree Durga and Kurt Squire. 2009. Competition as a Driver for Learning. International Journal of Learning and Media 1(2).


As games proliferate, educators have developed an interest in how they function as a medium for learning. Given past research which has stressed the importance for cooperative rather than competitive learning environments, one might expect competition to be detrimental toward learning. This worked example illustrates one instance in which direct competition in a multiplayer environment drives learning. We argue that past research may have overlooked how competition is framed and experienced isculturally contextual, so that competition in some frameworks (such as a gaming context) may be experienced very differently than a school context. Direct competition is engaging for a variety of players — including many girls – as it enables an entry point into a technologically savvy sub-culture that confers status upon participants. Second, direct competition is a primary and important driver of learning, as players seek to “get ahead”, overcome problems, and earn status within the group.

Ben DeVane, Shree Durga and Kurt Squire
Publication Date
Thursday, July 23, 2009