L2 writing practice: Game enjoyment as a key to engagement

Laura K. Allen, Scott A. Crossley, Erica L. Snow, Danielle McNamara

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

87 Scopus citations


The Writing Pal (W-Pal) is an intelligent tutoring system (ITS) designed to provide students with explicit writing strategy instruction and practice. W-Pal includes a suite of educational games developed to increase writing engagement and provide opportunities to practice writing strategies. In this study, first (L1) (n = 26) and second (L2) language (n = 16) students interacted with W-Pal over eight sessions. We collected students' daily self-reports of engagement, motivation, and perceptions of performance, as well as their reported game attitudes (difficulty, helpfulness for learning, and enjoyment). Results indicated that, for all students, interactions with W-Pal led to increases in writing performance and more positive attitudes towards the system (engagement, motivation, and perceived performance). For L1 students, game difficulty was a significant predictor of boredom; however, for the L2 students, game enjoyment predicted both their motivation and perceived writing improvement. Notably, the L2 students' game ratings accounted for more variance in these daily reports than did the ratings of L1 students. This study suggests that L1 and L2 students experience similar benefits offered by game-based strategy practice in an ITS. Further, the link between game attitudes and overall daily perceptions of training may be stronger for L2 students than L1 students.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)124-150
Number of pages27
JournalLanguage Learning and Technology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2014


  • Game-based practice
  • Motivation
  • Second language writing
  • Strategy instruction
  • Writing instruction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Computer Science Applications


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