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Game-based learning is the new black at schools

Oct 8, 2015

Game-based learning has the potential to drastically improve the way children are taught. Games have peculiar qualities that let them engage hard-to-reach students in a way lessons cannot, that’s why gamification is a must into the classrooms.

A good game is a powerful motivator for learning. It engages the mind and the passions simultaneously, with obvious results. 

Who play video games? 

  1. 99% of boys 
  2. 94% of girls
  3. 62% of teachers 

Here you have 5 reasons why it does work:

1. Games foster ideal conditions for learning

Catch the term zone of proximal development (Lev Vygotsky); in this zone the lesson is neither so easy that the student is bored, nor so difficult that he gives up. There is a sweet spot for learning that lies between what a person can do without help, and what they can only accomplish with help.

Teachers create lessons that fall into their students’ zone of proximal development, as well successful games tend to aim toward this same zone. The tantalizing opportunity provided by games is a lesson that measures player skill, and then delivers an appropriate response automatically.

But! Game designers “need to be mindful of the cognitive load imposed on players” to learn to play.

2. Games encourage growth

The growth mindset paradigm is the idea is that individuals who see themselves as evolving through hard work and dedication will grow their abilities, while those who see their talents as fixed traits will not (Carol Dweck).

Games that support a growth mindset allow for “graceful failure” by embedding low-stakes failure into the game mechanics. These games encourage balanced risk-taking and exploration. A player who fails at a well-made game immediately tries again, and when the player eventually succeeds, the idea of growth through practice is reinforced. 

3. Games improve spatial skills

Games improve visual processing, visual-spatial manipulation of images, and auditory processing. Much of the improvement to video games demanding that players interpret, mentally transform, manipulate, and relate dynamic changing images.

Games have significant value for education because the skills cultivated by games are widely applicable outside of games. 

Specifically, action games, often called First Person Shooter (FPS) games, improve attention, mental rotation, task switching, speed of processing, sensitivity to inputs from the environment, resistance to distraction, and flexibility in allocating cognitive as well as perceptual resources. Not only did people learn these skills from video games, there was a significant ability to transfer that learning to other activities.

4. Games are linked to STEM achievement and greater creativity

Spatial skills “can be trained with video games (primarily action games) in a relatively brief period” and that these skills “last over an extended period of time.” More excitingly, the improvement in visual-spatial skills is related to other, more scholarly, improvements.  The learning of these skills from video games show increased efficiency of neural processing. Improvements in spatial skills predict achievement in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

5. Games foster engagement

One of the most important factors related to learning is time on task. It is highly related to proficiency. Yet, students are found to be thinking about topics entirely unrelated to academics a full 40% of the time while in classrooms. In fact, on average, high school students are less engaged while in classrooms than anywhere else.

Enjoyment and interest during high school classes are significant predictors of student success in college, and that this engagement is a rarity in US schools.

The relationship between time spent and skill applies to video games as well. The more time spent playing educational games, the greater the gain in skills and knowledge. The average gamer spends 13 hours a week playing games.

It is not clear whether the positive effects of game-based learning stem from greater time spent learning, or increased efficiency in learning, or both. It is clear, however, that more time is spent learning when educational games are used than when they are not. Tobias et al report that those who learn using games, “tend to spend more time on them than do comparison groups.”

Do you use game-based learning in your classroom?

What positive effects you see in you students?

By Ángela R.

Source: The edvocate


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