Designing for self-efficacy in a driving simulator: A pilot study
Abstract: Virtual Reality and advanced, interactive simulators illustrate the potentials of modern technology for improving the ecological validity of learning experiments. Yet much more preliminary work is needed to appreciate how these growingly complex means can be utilized to promote high-order emotional and motivational constructs of the user, such as self-efficacy. Drawing from the frameworks of serious games and social cognitive theory, the present study presents a tentative design for promoting the learner's self-efficacy for driving, as represented in a full-scale game-based car simulator. In a pilot experiment, 30 inexperienced drivers assessed their own driving self-efficacy with regard to three specific traffic safety variables before and after they were randomly assigned to either a new, adapted version of the game, aimed at promoting the player's self-efficacy through positive feedback and matching challenge (experimental condition) or a standardized game version developed for previous studies (control condition). The results indicate a higher increase in self-efficacy, a stronger over-all experience and a greater improvement in keeping the speed for participants in the experimental condition than in the control condition. All participants improved their driving skills, but the results were less clear between the two groups with regard to changing lanes and keeping distance to other vehicles. The results encourage further research into how serious game-based simulations should be designed, specifically and generally, to incorporate self-efficacy theory for promoting the learner's sense of being able to manage the learning task(s) at hand.
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