The Role of Surprise in Game-Based Learning for Mathematics

Pieter Wouters, Herre van Oostendorp, Judith ter Vrugte, Sylke Vandercruysse, Ton de Jong, Jan Elen

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionAcademicpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


In this paper we investigate the potential of surprise on learning with prevocational students in the domain of proportional reasoning. Surprise involves an emotional reaction, but it also serves a cognitive goal as it directs attention to explain why the surprising event occurred and to learn for the future. Experiment 1 - comparing a surprise condition with a control condition - found no differences, but the results suggested that surprise may be beneficial for higher level students. In Experiment 2 we combined Expectancy strength (Strong vs. Weak) with Surprise (Present vs. Absent) using higher level students. We found a marginal effect of surprise on learning indicating that students who experienced surprises learned more than students who were not exposed to these surprises but we found a stronger positive effect of surprise when we included existing proportional reasoning skill as factor. These results provide evidence that narrative techniques such as surprise can be used for the purpose of learning.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationGames and Learning Alliance: 4th International Conference, GALA 2015, Rome, Italy, December 9-11, 2015, Revised Selected Papers
EditorsAlessandro De Gloria, Remco Veltkamp
Place of PublicationRome
ISBN (Print)978-3-319-40215-4
Publication statusPublished - 9 Dec 2016
Event4th International Conference of Games and Learning Alliance, GALA 2015 - Rome, Italy
Duration: 9 Dec 201511 Dec 2015
Conference number: 4

Publication series

NameLecture Notes in Computer Science
ISSN (Print)0302-9743
ISSN (Electronic)1611-3349


Conference4th International Conference of Games and Learning Alliance, GALA 2015
Abbreviated titleGALA


  • METIS-318628
  • IR-101928


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