Natural Learning in Video Games

Caine and Caine (2011) reviewed explored the cognitive engagement that has been designed into video games. They find “popular technology engages children and adults using challenging scenarios, exciting and relevant social issues, collaboration, ownership, relevant engagement, competition, and action” (p. 8); they find these features contribute to a situation in which natural learning occurs. Natural learning is contrasted with instruction as it is traditionally practiced in schools, and they describe successful models of schooling that have been structured around:   

  • Relaxed alertness which means students have a positive disposition towards the curriculum, feel supported socially, and can exert self-regulation, thus they are prepared for the moderate stress of interacting with unfamiliar ideas and learning.  
  • Orchestrated immersion in complex experiences which means the teachers do plan the activity of the students, but the students are placed in a situation that resembles the real-world to the extent that is reasonable, they engage all of their senses, and the experience is centered on the learner rather than on the content. 
  • Active processing which means the learner is constructing meaning of the experience, and that meaning is often manifest is a product or performance that is something other than answering test questions or restating what has been presented in the complex experience.  


Caine, R., & Caine, G. (2011). Natural learning for a connected world: Education, technology, and the human brain. Teachers College Press.