Research Findings Support the Incorporation of Games and Gaming Techniques in Education

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Late last year I read an interesting article about, "The Virtues of Daydreaming And 30 Other Surprising (And Controversial) Research Findings About How Students Learn". It contained many interesting references to studies and research that indicated positive results from the use of gaming in an educational setting. Following are a few of those findings.

  • Play-based learning increases children’s attention span: In a study done by the Australian Journal of Educational and Developmental Psychology, researchers took a close look at how teacher’s beliefs regarding early education influence the classroom environment. Study findings indicated that when children are allowed to learn through play, there is far less time spent on behavior management and the student’s attention spans are also longer. “Play-based learning shifts the focus of learning from the outcome or goal, to the process.”

  • Children who construct their own video games experience increased cognitive and social growth: Research outlined in the Lookstein Online Journal demonstrated that kids, “show cognitive growth when they are given the task of creating their own video game.” It explains that when children develop such a game, they use prior knowledge, create links between game scenes, use logic, generate new ideas and solutions and engage in trial and error. All of these techniques engage them in learning and lead to taking responsibility for learning.

  • Game playing can develop a positive attitude towards mathematics for children: Mathematics can be a dry, repetitive subject. Incorporating games in the curriculum can dramatically alter student’s attitudes about math, according to this research from Deakin University. More students, “were able to articulate positive emotions surrounding math, as well as an increase in confidence about different concepts.” Children displayed more enthusiasm and motivation for math, which led to more success. Playing math games seemed to help displace the tediousness of repetitive problem solving.

  • Mature make-believe play provides the most beneficial context for children’s development In an article written by the National Association for the Education of Young Children, the argument is made that “play is an ever-evolving skill that children must be guided through. Classrooms should allow time for play-based scenarios – they are a fundamental building block of learning. “It is within this context that children build the preliminary skills for advanced academic understanding.” Imaginative scenarios where children assume roles, use props and themes, and collaborate with other children, are a crucial avenue for development. Of course it is also very important that kids also have time to play in traditional social groups.

So let those kids “get their game on” in and out of the classroom (which appropriate limits and oversights, of course)!

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