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Many top theorists have described the role of fantasy within learning and motivation. For example, Jean Piaget explains fantasy in children's play “as a means to ‘assimilate’ experience into existing mental structures without the need to accommodate to the demands of external reality.” Freud has described fantasy as a means for children to emotionally resolve conflicts within their personal life. Though, admittedly, these theorists predominantly describe fantasies which people produce themselves, Malone argues that similar processes would logically be involved in determining the fantasies that people find appealing within external environments. Within his work, Malone describes two main types of fantasy and how of the two, one is better suited for use within instruction. These two forms of fantasy are described bellow. Subsequently, their strengths and weaknesses in relation to instruction are discussed.
Intrinsic and Extrinsic Fantasies.
In extrinsic fantasies, the fantasy depends on the use of the skill but not vice versa. For example, Speedway is a computer game in which students' cars move along a race track depending on how fast they answer arithmetic problems. Here, the skill (arithmetic computation speed) affects the fantasy (how fast the car moves along the track). However, the fantasy does not affect the skill used. In other words, the same fantasy could be used with completely different kinds of problems (how fast players can spell words, for example).
Think back to the computer game “Darts” played earlier in the lesson. In this example, the balloons popping represent an extrinsic fantasy. The balloons popping represents an extrinsic fantasy in this case because the popping occurs as an effect caused by a correct answer. However, this correct answer could be in relation to anything and is not dependent on the specific material being taught. For example, if the player was practicing spelling, a balloon could pop once they spelled the word correctly.
In intrinsic fantasies, on the other hand, not only does the fantasy depend on the skill, but the skill also depends on the fantasy. For example, “Hurkle” is a computer game in which players search for a hidden animal on a Cartesian grid; and “Snoopy” is a game in which ‘Snoopy’ shoots at the ‘Red Baron’ on a number line. In both of these math based games, the skill depends on the fantasy. In other words, the elements of the skill being practiced are actually embedded in the fantasy being employed (the Cartesian grid and the number line).
Think back again to the computer game “Darts” played earlier in the lesson. In this example, the “shooting” of the darts represents an intrinsic fantasy. This is because the fantasy of the dart is reliant on the goal of the game. In other words, the dart’s position is determined by the fraction that the player chooses. The existence of the dart fantasy would therefore not make sense within a spelling game for example. To be clear, if the dart’s positioning was not dependent on the answer given by the player, then the dart fantasy would in fact be an extrinsic fantasy.
Malone’s Preference for Intrinsic Motivation for Use within Instruction and Instructional Games
Here, I would like to make clear that Malone strongly favors intrinsic fantasies over extrinsic fantasies. He believes that in general, intrinsic fantasies are “both (a) more interesting and (b) more instructional than extrinsic fantasies.” This is because intrinsic fantasies often:
1) Naturally indicate how the skills being taught can be used to accomplish a real world goal (as in simulations). A good example of this can be seen within the game “Hurkle,” described above: A learner would actually employ the use of a Cartesian grid in real life within a map search.
2) Employ relevant imagery which may provoke learner memory assimilation and recall. For example, when working with fractions in real life or at school, a child who has played the game “Darts,” may actually recall the imagery of the game in order to assist them in their current task.
3) Provide naturally occurring constructive feedback, since problems are naturally presented in terms of the elements found within the fantasy world. Once again, in the “Darts” game example, players are able to view their answers represented upon the screen. This is a naturally occurring instance of constructive feedback because this visual representation allows the player to compare their current answer to other guesses they have made, and in relation to the target (the balloon).
As seen above, incorporating intrinsic fantasies into instruction can be a very powerful motivating tool within learning. However, to be effective, intrinsic fantasies must inherently be tied to the goals of the particular instruction one is trying bring about. Because this is not always an easy process, , the next section on Challenge describes how designers can design goals which are integrated within an intrinsic fantasy. This section will also define Challenge within instruction and describe how to bring about the appropriate level of Challenge within a learning environment.