Meco: A digital card game to enhance metacognitive awareness

Eelco Braad, Nick Degens, Wijnand Ijsselsteijn

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A key concept within 21st-century skills is knowing how to acquire new knowledge and skills. Metacognition is the knowledge a person has of their own learning combined with the skills to apply that knowledge to enable more efficient and effective learning. Game-based learning can stimulate motivation as well as learning, but while various reviews have pointed out the opportunity for digital games to promote metacognition, little is known about how games can be designed to accomplish this. If we want learners to become better at learning with games, we need to investigate how metacognition can be supported and trained through game-based learning. Previous research has identified generic principles for designing metacognitive training, while only a few principles specific to game-based learning have been suggested. We designed the mobile game MeCo based on these design principles. MeCo was inspired by the mobile game Reigns and replicates its mechanic of exploring a dynamically branching story through choice-making by swiping cards left or right. However, in MeCo the objective is to learn as much as possible about different planets and their inhabitants, by planning, performing, and evaluating space exploration missions. Two metacognitive interventions were added to promote the transfer of metacognition to real-world learning situations: metacognitive question prompts and metacognitive feedback. A preliminary evaluation of the game was conducted using questionnaires and focus groups. Players found the game motivating enough to engage with the story and to be willing to play the game in their free time. Furthermore, they found that their in-game choices mattered, although more linear parts were preferred over more dynamically branching parts of the game. However, the humour in the narrative interfered with the more serious nature of metacognitive questions, resulting in players not taking the questions seriously enough to have an impact on metacognitive awareness. The implications for designing motivating digital games to enhance metacognition are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 13th International Conference on Game Based Learning, ECGBL 2019
EditorsLars Elbaek, Gunver Majgaard, Andrea Valente, Saifuddin Khalid
PublisherDechema e.V.
Number of pages9
ISBN (Electronic)9781912764389
Publication statusPublished - 2019
Event13th International Conference on Game Based Learning, (ECGBL 2019) - Odense, Denmark
Duration: 3 Oct 20194 Oct 2019


Conference13th International Conference on Game Based Learning, (ECGBL 2019)
Abbreviated titleECGBL2019


  • Design-based research
  • Game-based learning
  • Games for learning
  • Metacognition

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