The Preservation of Heritage in a School Campus with Augmented
Reality (AR) and Game-Based Learning
P. B. A. Vu
, Q. Ying
and Kenneth Y. T. Lim
Independent Researcher
National Institute of Education, Singapore
Keywords: Augmented Reality, Game-Based Environment, Cultural Heritage, Serious Games, Situational Interest.
Abstract: Serious games have showcased tremendous potential in transforming the way we teach and learn. This paper
explores the potential affordances of Augmented Reality (AR) game-based learning, specifically in the
context of preserving school heritage. The AR game-based learning experience is proposed to increase
students’ knowledge of their school’s heritage. By incorporating digital technology and story-telling, the game
is also proposed to make the subject of school heritage more tangible for the enhancement of learning. The
study involves 10 students playing an AR adventure role-playing game (RPG) which uses device location
within the campus of Hwa Chong Institution, Singapore, to trigger in-game events. To assess the effectiveness
of the AR game-based experience as a medium for learning, a general survey is used to collect feedback about
the gameplay experience, while a Situational Interest survey collects data about participants’ situational
interest, which emerges in response to the learning environment created, using the Situational Interest Scale
(Chen et al., 1999). Results confirmed a positive correlation between players’ situational interest and
absorption of information, shed light on the significance of game design elements in influencing the gameplay
experience, and pointed to specific rooms for improvement for future AR game-based learning environments.
It is hoped that this paper will contribute to an understanding of the wider effectiveness of game-based
learning environments in educational contexts.
1.1 Background
1.1.1 Serious Games and Game-Based
Serious Games (SGs) are video games where the
main purpose is not entertainment (Manuel et al.,
2019). Game-based learning, i.e. serious games used
for education, is defined as “learning that is facilitated
by the use of a game” (Whitton, 2012). Game-based
environments are effective in enhancing students’
learning through promoting experimental learning
and active construction of knowledge i.e. learning
through experience or learning-by-doing (Liarokapis
et al., 2017; Cozza et al., 2021). Their success has also
been linked to alignment with proven pedagogy.
Use of SGs for school heritage awareness and
preservation can be classified under “place-based
learning”, which is defined as "learning that is rooted
in what is local—the unique history, environment,
culture, economy, literature, and art of a particular
place” (Smith and Sobel, 2010). For example,
Wisconsin, a state in the United States (US), used
location-based games (LBGs) for the Greenbush
Cultural Tour, a year-long learning project that
involves students helping to develop an AR-based
game “MadCity Mystery”. Through repeated
observations and hands-on experiences with elements
in the “Place”, students form a pattern of culture and
community which deepened their sense of place and
connection to Greenbush (Olson and Wagler, 2011).
Vu, P., Ying, Q. and Lim, K.
The Preservation of Heritage in a School Campus with Augmented Reality (AR) and Game-Based Learning.
DOI: 10.5220/0012755400003693
Paper published under CC license (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)
In Proceedings of the 16th International Conference on Computer Supported Education (CSEDU 2024) - Volume 1, pages 701-710
ISBN: 978-989-758-697-2; ISSN: 2184-5026
Proceedings Copyright © 2024 by SCITEPRESS Science and Technology Publications, Lda.
1.1.2 Augmented Reality
Augmented Reality (AR) technology, defined as the
augmentation of the physical real-world environment
through the addition of virtual computer-generated
information (Carmigniani and Furht, 2011), is
commonly used to enhance game-based learning
environments. Ying et al. (2021) attribute this to the
elements of gamification and immediate feedback
that can capture and retain learners’ interest and
attention. It is proposed that contemporary game-
based learning environments should employ AR
technologies for student-centred learning instead of
relying on expert-led instructional methods (Lim and
Lim, 2020).
1.1.3 Situational Interest
Situational Interest is defined as a temporary state
aroused by specific features of a situation, task, or
object (Schiefele, 2009). Many studies have
associated students’ situational interest in learning
activities, which encompasses factors such as
enjoyment, curiosity, and attention, with better
learning and knowledge absorption. Chen et al.
(1999) developed a Situational Interest Scale to
identify high interest versus low interest activities.
1.1.4 Learning of School Heritage
School heritage is the cultural heritage of an
educational institution, which refers to any tangible
and intangible assets inherited from the past of that
institution. Balela and Mundy (2015) outlined the
following four dimensions of cultural heritage: Arts
and Artefacts, Environment, People and History.
While SGs have generated significant enthusiasm
in the field of cultural heritage preservation (Yun,
2023; DaCosta and Kinsell, 2023), there is a
noticeable lack of representation when it comes to
school heritage preservation. In undertaking this
study, we consider the heritage and history of a school
as something to be valued and passed down to future
generations. Familiarity with school heritage is
assumed to be able to strengthen the bonds within the
school community, consisting of students, alumni,
and staff.
This study seeks to investigate whether the
proposed benefits of game-based learning
environments with regards to the learning of cultural
heritage and triggering situational interest, can be
applied to the preservation of school heritage. For
example, location-based games (LBGs) have been
praised for its effects in stimulating students’
imagination (Lehto et al., 2020), improving learning
motivation (Volkmar et al., 2018), encouraging
reflection on history (Jones et al., 2019) and fostering
emotional connection to cultural heritage (Othman et
al., 2021).
Hwa Chong Institution in Singapore was chosen
as the basis of the game designed in this study. The
school was founded in 1919 and boasts a rich
heritage, having been through World War II and
bearing witness to student activism throughout the
1930s to 1960s (Liu and Wong, 2004). As a Special
Assistance Plan (SAP) school that seeks to “develop
effectively bilingual students who were inculcated
with traditional Chinese values” (Sim, n.d), the
school plays an important role in promoting Chinese
culture in an increasingly diverse Singapore. The
abundance of urban legends and ghost stories based
around the school’s history, also known as “informal,
non-official heritage” (Barrère, 2016) have inspired
some elements in the game’s narrative, such as
talking statues with glowing eyes and mysterious
ghost figures loitering around the Clock Tower.
1.2 Scope of Investigation
This project explores the potential affordances of
Augmented Reality (AR) game-based learning in
preserving school heritage, by assessing student
players’ situational interest in a game based in their
campus as well as their perception of the strengths
and limitations of the medium.
Our objective is ultimately to explore the potential
affordances of AR in making school heritage more
tangible as a means of preservation.
2.1 Location-Based Game
A game-based learning activity using Augmented
Reality (AR) was designed using the Taleblazer
platform developed by the MIT STEP lab, and set in
Hwa Chong Institution, Singapore. The study
involved 10 student participants from the school, to
afford them a scaffolded experience as they explore
the campus with a heritage perspective.
The game was constructed as an AR adventure
role-playing game (RPG) which uses device location
within the boundaries of the campus to trigger in-
game events. Players were required to physically
access points of interest (POIs), identified with
markers on the in-game map (Figure 1).
ERSeGEL 2024 - Workshop on Extended Reality and Serious Games for Education and Learning
Figure 1: Screenshot of the in-game map with the first POI
marked by the red triangle icon.
As an adventure RPG, the game’s narrative revolves
around an unnamed playable character (“the player”)
assisting a mysterious ghost figure in its search for
strange ‘shards’ around the school (Figure 2).
Figure 2: A screenshot of the game at the first POI, where
players are introduced to the mysterious ghost figure.
The players were required to access each POI in
order to progress through the game story. For the sake
of simplicity usually preferred for school tours, the
order of the POIs is linear with a fixed ending (Figure
Figure 3: A bird’s eye view map of the school campus, with
the sequence of in-game POIs marked in green.
With each POI reached and a new shard is
collected, players discover more information about
the school’s heritage and finally unveil the identity of
the ghost at the last POI (Figure 4). Information was
given through in-game narration, dialogues between
the player and the non-playable characters (NPCs), or
multimedia resources embedded in the game.
Figure 4: A screenshot of the game showing part of the
narration and the dialogues between the player and the non-
playable “supernatural” character.
The multimedia resources served to complement
the textual information given to players through
character dialogues and narration, such as
The Preservation of Heritage in a School Campus with Augmented Reality (AR) and Game-Based Learning
photographs of past school events, and links to a
website with a maneuverable 3D model of a heritage
monument on the campus (Figure 5).
Figure 5: A maneuverable 3D model by the National
Heritage Board of the Clock Tower national monument on
the Hwa Chong Institution campus, which players access
during the game.
Quiz segments were included in the game (Figure
6) to prompt players to search for relevant
information either in the physical environment or on
the internet, such that the learning activity is
meaningfully situated in a relevant context (de Souza
e Silva and Delacruz, 2006).
2.2 Research Design
A mixed methods concurrent triangulation design
was adopted in this study to combine qualitative and
quantitative approaches. Quantitative data from the
Situational Interest Scale (see 3.3) and qualitative
data from participant feedback (see 3.2) were
compared to determine if there is convergence,
differences, or some combination (Creswell, 2009).
Figure 6: A screenshot of one of the quizzes in the game.
2.3 Situational Interest Scale
This study used the Situational Interest Scale devised
by Chen et al (1999), which includes 24 items spread
across 5 dimensions of situational interest– Novelty,
Challenge, Exploration Intention, Instant Enjoyment,
and Attention Demandas well as the Total Interest
domain. Each item was to be scored on a 5-point
Likert scale, with 5 being Very true. The items of the
Exploration Intention dimension were modified from
the original context in physical education to fit the AR
game-based learning activity in this study.
In the study, the items were shown to participants
in a randomised sequence using a Google Form
survey which also collected qualitative feedback.
The participants played the game on campus
under the researcher’s supervision. Subsequently, the
survey hosted on Google Forms was disseminated via
WhatsApp text and completed by the participants
3.1 Content Retention
The student participants were asked to score how
much they knew about their school heritage before
ERSeGEL 2024 - Workshop on Extended Reality and Serious Games for Education and Learning
and after the game on a 5-point Likert scale, with 1
being Not at all. The knowledge score increased from
a mean score of 2.1 before the game to 4 after the
game, showing content retention from the game in the
short term. However, further data collection for long-
term content retention was not undertaken due to the
time frame given for the study.
3.2 Thematic Analysis
In this study, a Google form was used to collect
qualitative feedback on the game experience from all
participants, with the following prompts:
1. What did you like about the game?
2. What did you not like about the game?
The data was first read without coding. Then,
individual statements were analysed to highlight
significant text, such as “narration”, “plot”, and
“GPS” (Global Positioning System), and categorised
into the limitations and strengths of the game. To
minimise interpretation bias, 2 researchers were
involved in reviewing the data. The themes that
ultimately emerged from the analysis were Content,
Game Mechanics, and External Factors (see
Appendix A).
Many players chose to comment on the game’s
narrative, plot, or dialogues, which indicates that their
situational interest is influenced by these factors. In
particular, participant P8, the only one who proposed
the game should have a branching storyline instead of
a linear one, also had the lowest average score for
Exploration Intention.
The game’s laggy GPS was pointed out by 3 out
of the 10 participants, which is more than that of any
other limitations. This could be because such
technical problems take away the immersion factor
that AR game-based environments are often praised
for, or simply because the obstruction to the gameplay
is a source of annoyance for players. Regardless, it
meant that players considered technical problems in
the game mechanics to be a critical limitation, which
corroborates our literature that inaccurate GPS
signals can cause unpleasant gaming experiences
(Fränti and Fazal, 2023).
3.3 Situational Interest Scale
The scores of 10 student participants for the
Situational Interest Scale (Chen et al., 1999) were
recorded. The distribution of the participants’ scores
in the 4 dimensions and also the Total Interest domain
is represented on the respective histograms.
All items in the scale were scored on a 5-point
Likert scale, from 1 (Very untrue) to 5 (Very true). A
total of 24 items were shown to participants in a
randomised order to check consistency in answers,
and reverse coding was not used. The individual
participant’s score for each dimension of the scale
was recorded by taking the mean score of their
answers to the 4 items under the respective
For the Exploration Intention dimension, Figure 7
illustrates that 70% of the participants fall within the
range of 3 to 5. The participants with mean scores
below 3 in this dimension suggested distinct
limitations of the game experience across content
presentation and game mechanics, from the game’s
lack of a “branching storyline”, lack of coverage on
“more secluded places that we usually don’t go to”,
to the game design which requires players to walk.
The player feedback substantiates existing literature
that a location target layout that creates a clear linear
sequence may not present a sufficient challenge and,
in turn, reduce player enjoyment (Schiefele, 2009).
2 out of 3 participants with mean scores of 4 and
above noted the content presentation of an
“interesting”, “coherent” narrative as a strength,
while the other participant falling in this range
indicated the game’s incorporation of information
that can be found physically to be a strength.
Figure 7: Histogram of Exploration Intention dimension.
Figure 8 shows that 90% of the participants scored
the Instant Enjoyment dimension positively with
mean scores of 3 and above. Of the 5 participants
falling in the 4 to 5 score range, 4 highlighted content
presentation as the strength of the game. It stands as
a logical inference that content presentation is a key
influence on enjoyment. The outlier participant who
had a mean score below 3 in this dimension
particularly mentioned a lack of interest in the topic
of the game.
The Preservation of Heritage in a School Campus with Augmented Reality (AR) and Game-Based Learning
Figure 8: Histogram of Instant Enjoyment dimension.
In the Attention Demand dimension, 90% of the
participants had mean scores of 3 and above, as
represented by Figure 9. It is significant to mention
that all 4 participants falling in the highest score range
of 4 to 5, also scored 4 and above in the Instant
Enjoyment dimension. This aligns with reasonable
expectations that the participants who enjoyed the
game the most also had higher attention quality
during the experience, as enjoyment has been linked
with better concentration in students (Lucardie,
2014). It was noted that the outlier participant scoring
below 3 in this dimension was also scoring below 3
in the Exploration Intention dimension, citing the
walking required by the game as a limitation.
Figure 9: Histogram of Attention Demand dimension.
With regards to the Challenge dimension, 90% of
the participants faced little to no challenge playing the
game, as evidenced by Figure 10. It is worth
highlighting that the outlier participant in this
dimension was observed struggling to find the correct
answer for some quiz segments in the game, which
may have impacted the score.
Figure 10: Histogram of Challenge dimension.
Figure 11 illustrates that 90% of the participants
scored the Novelty dimension at 3 or above,
supporting our literature review that there had not yet
been a widespread application of serious games in
education (Almeida and Simoes, 2019) despite the
increasing abundance of such games and the
availability of technology.
Figure 11: Histogram of Novelty dimension.
Overall, all participants positively scored the
Total Interest dimension, as shown by Figure 12,
indicating an overall positive and engaging game
experience for the 10 participants. Referencing Figure
8, this result also substantiates the study by Chen et
al. (2001) that Challenge may play a less important
role in influencing situational interest, especially in
the context of a task that is more physical, as the game
experience constructed for this study does not require
any conceptual understanding but requires physical
ERSeGEL 2024 - Workshop on Extended Reality and Serious Games for Education and Learning
Figure 12: Histogram of Total Interest dimension.
Both quantitative and qualitative results reflected
fairly similar answers across 10 participants, with
reasonable outliers to support existing literature on
external factors that contribute to variances in players’
situational interest besides the gameplay experience
itself, such as environmental variables e.g. teaching
styles, learning duration or grouping (Chen et al.,
2001). This reveals that, overall, HeritageByte as an
augmented reality game-based learning environment
has achieved an expected degree of success.
To further assess the degree of effectiveness of the
gameplay experience, we rely on 2 criteria -
situational interest (which we sometimes refer to
interchangeably with player enjoyment) and content
retention. On situational interest, 100% of
participants indicated some level of interest (see
Figure 10), which is significant because our literature
review has established interest and general
engagement as important factors in learners’
motivation. On content retention, 100% of
participants indicated an increase in their knowledge
of the subject matter (i.e. the heritage of the school)
after the game by at least 1 point on a 5-point Likert
scale. This result corroborates the literature on the
potential of hybrid reality games in teaching site-
specific history (de Souza e Silva and Delacruz,
2006). This also substantiates existing literature that
serious games can “[provide] concrete, compelling
contexts” for cultural heritage content which may be
harder to appreciate when de-contextualized
(Economou, 1998; Belotti, 2012).
An unavoidable limitation of any serious games
used for the learning of school heritage is the presence
of players’ inherent prejudice against history as a
boring, tedious and content-heavy topic. This is one
of the key motivations behind the increasing
incorporation of serious games into the teaching of
these topics. Specifically, the potential of serious
games as a medium for heritage learning is due to the
belief that the fun and engaging gameplay experience
is able to combat learners’ previous lack of interest in
the topic, which is to say, triggering sufficient
situational interest for them to voluntarily learn more
about the topic. However, in our study, despite the use
of a serious game, which was unanimously agreed on
by all players as being able to pique their enjoyment
(Instant Enjoyment) and curiosity to learn more
(Exporation Intention), one participant (P2) still noted
the lack of interest in the topic as the factor that had
significantly reduced their interest in the game. It could
either be perceived as an outlier or that the design
limitations of the game raised by various other players
had reduced the overall effectiveness of the game.
In addition, a small sample size was used in this
study due to time restraints. The student participants
involved in this study were aged 17-18 years old,
hence the findings of this study may not apply to other
learner groups, for example, younger children, due to
factors such as the development of sustained attention
(Hobbiss and Lavie, 2024). Additionally, the game
used in this study was constructed around the specific
heritage context, and unique geography of the campus
chosen. Hence, future research is required to attain a
deeper understanding of principles of design that
apply to all campuses in developing such location-
based games.
This project aims to explore the potential for a more
widespread application of AR game-based learning
environments in delivering content about school
heritage. Overall, our results corroborate existing
research on the effectiveness of this medium in
producing positive knowledge retention and
engagement during the learning process.
The study shed light on the significance of game
design elements, including the presentation aspect
e.g. narrative, and the technical aspect e.g. GPS, on
players’ situational interest. Most significantly, the
content presentation aspect of the game had a strong
positive influence on the Instant Enjoyment and
Exploration Intention dimensions, which suggests the
narratives employed in the adventure RPG genre
positively influence situational interest in this use
case. We can conclude that narratives in AR game-
based environments may be key to making school
The Preservation of Heritage in a School Campus with Augmented Reality (AR) and Game-Based Learning
heritage more tangible, as a means of preservation.
Future work can delve into the relationship between
specific game elements and the dimensions of
situational interest to develop design principles in
crafting such AR game-based experiences.
Feedback on the game’s lack of branching
narratives and lack of content coverage on more niche
locations corroborate the common perception of
serious games being too boring and predictable to
keep players engaged. Whereas these limitations were
deliberate design choices to ensure a reasonable
walking distance in a single game session (Fränti and
Fazal, 2023), it raises the question of the balance
between the pedagogical and entertainment aspects of
such a serious game. More secluded locations and
branching narratives in a location-based game, where
learning tasks are connected to relevant POIs, will
likely deviate from the “serious” aspect of the game
but may increase player motivation through perceived
in-game autonomy (Ryan et al., 2006). Future work
should consider carefully the balance between the
“serious” and “game” aspects while designing game-
based learning environments to ensure both
entertainment and education criteria are met (Manuel
et al., 2019).
Ultimately, this study was fruitful in gaining some
insight into the potential of employing AR game-
based learning environments in the subject of school
heritage preservation.
We would like to express our deepest gratitude to Dr
Lim Yang Teck Kenneth from the National Institute
of Education for his invaluable guidance and
feedback throughout the project; along with his team,
Ahmed and Richard, who generously provided
technical knowledge and expertise.
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Table 1: Table showing thematic analysis of qualitative
feedback from participants, who are represented as the
letter P and are numbered from P1 to P10 for anonymity.
P2: “I like the positive, funny
P3: “Cute and interactive”
P5, P7: “The dialogue”
P8: “Uses various forms (eg
videos, 3D models) to teach
Content (Plot) P1: “Very interesting plot.”
P9: “the trail was meaningful and
the storyline was coherent”
P10: “info we can actually find
instead of guessing randomly”
P6: “it was a new way to explore
the school”
P4: “It’s quite easy to play”
P1: “it wasn’t narrated out loud.
It would have been more
interactive if it [was]”
P4: “The dialogues could be a bit
P5: “few dialogue”
Content (Plot) P8: “No branching storyline”
P6: “Could have been to more
secluded places that we usually
don’t go to”
P7: “The fact that I had to walk”
P3, P9, P10: Laggy GPS
P2: “the thing is I don’t like the
topic [on the school]”
The Preservation of Heritage in a School Campus with Augmented Reality (AR) and Game-Based Learning
This study involves the use of the Situational Interest
Scale proposed by Chen, Darst & Pangrazi (1999).
The Situational Interest Scale includes 5
dimensions: Exploration Intention, Instant
Enjoyment, Attention Demand, Challenge and
Novelty, excluding Total Interest. There are 4 items
per dimension, and 4 items for Total Interest, making
up a total of 24 items. Revisions were made to the
Exploration Intention dimension to fit the context of
the study without changing the original meaning of
the statements.
Participants were required to rate each statement
on a 5-point Likert scale from 1 (very untrue) to 5
(very true). Statements were randomly placed in the
questionnaire completed by participants.
Exploration Intention (original):
I want to discover all the tricks in this
I want to analyze it to have a grasp on it.
I like to find out more about how to do it.
I like to inquire into details of how to do it.
Revised statements to adapt to the context of the study
(AR game-based learning):
I want to discover all the information that
was in the game.
I want to study the information in the game
in detail to have a grasp on it.
I like to find out more about the information
given in the game.
I like to inquire into the details of the
information in the game.
Instant Enjoyment:
It is an enjoyable activity to me.
This activity is exciting.
The activity inspires me to participate.
This activity is appealing to me.
Attention Demand:
My attention was high.
I was very attentive all the time.
I was focused.
I was concentrated.
It is a complex activity.
This activity is a demanding task.
This activity is complicated.
It is hard for me to do this activity.
This activity is new to me.
This activity is fresh.
This is a new-fashioned activity for me to
This is an exceptional activity.
Total Interest:
This activity is interesting.
This activity looks fun to me.
It is fun for me to try this activity.
This is an interesting activity for me to do.
Cronbach’s a: .78, .80, .90, .91, .90 for above
dimensions respectively.
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