Do preschoolers ‘Game the system’? a case study of children’s intelligent (Mis)use of a teachable agent based play-&-learn game in mathematics

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingPaper in conference proceeding


For learning to take place in digital learning environments, learners need to use educational software – more or less – as intended. However, previous studies show that some school children, instead of trying to learn and master a skill, choose to systematically exploit or outsmart the system to gain progress. But what about preschoolers? The present study explores the presence of this kind of behavioral patterns among preschoolers who use a teachable agent-based play-&-learn game in early math. We analyzed behavioral data logs together with interviews and observations. We also analyzed action patterns deviating from the pedagogical design intentions in terms of non-harmful gaming, harmful gaming, and wheel-spinning. Our results reveal that even if pedagogically not intended use of the game did occur, harmful gaming was rare. Interestingly, the results also indicate an unexpected awareness in children of what it means to learn and to teach. Finally, we present a series of possible adjustments of the used software in order to decrease gaming-like behavior or strategies that signalize insufficient skills or poor learning.


External organisations
  • Lund University
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Human Computer Interaction
  • Pedagogy


  • Gaming the system, Learning-by-teaching, Preschoolers, Teachable agent, Wheel-spinning
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationArtificial Intelligence in Education
Subtitle of host publication19th International Conference, AIED 2018, Proceedings
EditorsCarolyn Penstein Rosé, Roberto Martínez-Maldonado, Ulrich H. Hoppe, Rose Luckin, Manolis Mavrikis, Kaska Porayska-Pomsta, Bruce McLaren, Benedict du Boulay
Place of PublicationCham
PublisherSpringer Verlag
Number of pages13
ISBN (Print)9783319938424
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Jan 1
Publication categoryResearch
Event19th International Conference on Artificial Intelligence in Education, AIED 2018 - London, United Kingdom
Duration: 2018 Jun 272018 Jun 30

Publication series

NameLecture Notes in Computer Science (including subseries Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence and Lecture Notes in Bioinformatics)
Volume10947 LNAI
ISSN (Print)0302-9743
ISSN (Electronic)1611-3349


Conference19th International Conference on Artificial Intelligence in Education, AIED 2018
CountryUnited Kingdom

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