Category Archives: Research on Games

The Neuroscience of Game-Based Learning

Paul Howard-Jones, of Bristol University, addresses the topic of Learning Games and “…using uncertain reward within computer games to make learning engaging.  There is a clear theoretical basis and laboratory-based evidence for a classroom-based approach and so me exploratory research in classrooms that may be helpful in informing pedagogy, but evidence of impact on improved engagement and enhanced academic achievement is limited to young adults” (p.5).

He goes on to write that;

“Mental rotation skills are strong predictors of achievement in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects and results from a single study show that improving mental rotation does lead to improvement in attainment. However, this has only been tested with undergraduate students. Another way of improving these skills might be through video games” (p.6).

Howard-Jones adds that;

“Popular games provide rapid schedules of uncertain reward that stimulate the brain’s reward system. The brain’s reward response can positively influence the rate at which we learn. Beyond just the magnitude of the reward, a range of contextual factors influence this reward response” (p.11).

To read the full report by Paul Howard-Jones,

Neuroscience and Education: A Review of Educational Interventions and Approaches Informed by Neuroscience Full Report and Executive Summary,

“The Gender Gap in Gaming is Closed”

Speak Up

Chris Riedel of THE Journal writes;

“According to the latest data, video for homework is on the rise; mobile computing is “beyond the tipping point”; and most kids don’t use traditional computers to connect to the Internet at home. Those are just three of the major trends revealed in the 2013 Speak Up Survey from Project Tomorrow, which CEO Julie Evans revealed at the FETC 2014 conference last week.

The 2013 results represent more than 400,000 surveys from 9,000 schools and 2,700 districts across the country. Respondents included 325,279 students, 32,151 teachers and librarians, 39,986 parents, 4,530 district administrators and, new to this year’s survey, 1,346 community members.”

Riedel continues;

“8. Gaming is Growing, and the Gender Gap is Closed

Another interesting area for Evans was student gaming. This year’s results showed 60 percent of students using laptops as a gaming device. Cell phones and game consoles tied with 54 percent use, while tablets clocked in at 44 percent.

Of particular note is students’ interest in taking gaming technology and applying it to learning difficult concepts, as well as their interest in using games as a way to explore career opportunities. Evans also noted no gender difference in students’ interest in games, with younger girls actually showing more gaming activity than their male counterparts.”

Read more at http://thejournal.com/articles/2014/02/03/10-major-technology-trends-in-education.aspx#QO1SgEJ0lFwEpiMJ.99

Video Games Help Girls to Develop Math and Spatial Reasoning Skills

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of Mind/Shift writes that;

“Girls should play more video games. That’s one of the unexpected lessons I take away from a rash of recent studies on the importance of—and the malleability of—spatial skills.

First, why spatial skills matter: The ability to mentally manipulate shapes and otherwise understand how the three-dimensional world works turns out to be an important predictor of creative and scholarly achievements, according to research published this month in the journal Psychological Science. The long-term study found that 13-year-olds’ scores on traditional measures of mathematical and verbal reasoning predicted the number of scholarly papers and patents these individuals produced three decades later.

But high scores on tests of spatial ability taken at age 13 predicted something more surprising: the likelihood that the individual would develop new knowledge and produce innovation in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, the domains collectively known as STEM.

The good news is that spatial abilities can get better with practice. A meta-analysis of 217 research studies, published in the journal Psychological Science last year, concluded that “spatial skills are malleable, durable and transferable”: that is, spatial skills can be improved by training; these improvements persist over time; and they “transfer” to tasks that are different from the tasks used in the training.

This last point is supported by a study published just last month in the Journal of Cognition and Development, which reported that training children in spatial reasoning can improve their performance in math. A single twenty-minute training session in spatial skills enhanced participants’ ability to solve math problems, suggesting that the training “primes” the brain to tackle arithmetic, says study author and Michigan State University education professor Kelly Mix.

Playing an action video game “can virtually eliminate” the gender difference in a basic capacity they call spatial attention.

Findings like these have led some researchers to advocate for the addition of spatial-skills training to the school curriculum. That’s not a bad idea, but here’s another way to think about it: the informal education children receive can be just as important as what they learn in the classroom. We need to think more carefully about how kids’ formal and informal educational experiences fit together, and how one can fill gaps left by the other.

If traditional math and reading skills are emphasized at school, for example, parents can make sure that spatial skills are accentuated at home—starting early on, with activities as simple as talking about the spatial properties of the world around us. A 2011 study from researchers at the University of Chicago reported that the number of spatial terms (like “circle,” “curvy,” and “edge”) parents used while interacting with their toddlers predicted how many of these kinds of words children themselves produced, and how well they performed on spatial problem-solving tasks at a later age.”

To read the full article by click here;

http://blogs.kqed.org/mindshift/2013/07/can-playing-video-games-give-girls-an-edge-in-math/

What Makes Serious Games Effective?

From Press Release:

New Research-Based White Paper Published on Serious Learning Games Game On! Learning, the thought leader in serious learning games for the corporate learning market, has just published a new white paper on serious learning games for the corporate training market called “What Makes Serious Games Effective? — 5 Questions to Ask When Evaluating Serious Games in the Workplace”. Share on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on LinkedInEmail a friend Serious Learning Games White Paper Research on serious games suggests improved job skills can be a result of integrating a serious game into your training program. But the same research shows that effective serious games are difficult to design, and they are rare. Gainesville, Florida (PRWEB) December 17, 2013 Game On! Learning, the thought leader in serious learning games for the corporate learning market, has just published a new white paper on serious learning games for the corporate training market called “What Makes Serious Games Effective? — 5 Questions to Ask When Evaluating Serious Games in the Workplace”. The white paper is authored by Dr. Rob Foshay, a principal of The Foshay Group, a consulting firm specializing in high-value strategies for e-learning product architectures, training, and certification. He is a practice leader for The Institute for Performance Improvement, and a Certified Performance Technologist. He is also a Fellow of the International Board of Standards for Training, Performance and Instruction. “Many organizations are currently investigating and implementing learning games”, said Bryan Austin, Game On! Learning’s chief game changer. “ Most are doing so to address the increasing lack of learner engagement of traditional elearning. What those implementing learning games are finding, though, is that they are not just engaging, but that well-designed learning games more effectively anchor knowledge and increase skill proficiency than their “traditional” classroom and elearning counterparts.” Many of corporate learners like games, and play them enthusiastically when at home. For corporate learning professionals, though, the interest is in serious games: those games that are designed to have learning outcomes relevant to the job. “What you really want to know is whether the game is effective in improving job skills, not game skills”, adds Austin. “Research on serious games suggests improved job skills can be a result of integrating a serious game into your training program. But the same research shows that effective serious games are difficult to design, and they are rare.” This research-based white paper provides key elements to look for in an effective serious game. This complementary white paper can be downloaded by clicking here. About Game On! Learning Game On! Learning provides inspired online game based learning solutions that create unmatched learner engagement and produce learners who will immediately and confidently apply their newly acquired skills on-the-job. Our revolutionary “serious games” feature a highly interactive, animated video game design, fun competition versus colleagues, learner-individualized feedback, and real world learning scenarios. An extraordinarily high degree of in-course skill practice helps ramp up employee performance, increase productivity, and move your organization more rapidly forward. We deliver lasting results in an unforgettable learning experience. It’s the most exciting thing happening in organizational learning today! We help you Get Your Game On!

DigiToolkit: Why we love Candy Crush, Angry Birds & Minecraft Lessons about Gaming & Education

Here is a great video/lesson on the educational power of digital games and how using the principles of good game design teachers can improve their instruction.

The introduction is kind of slow – she starts with a survey – but, be patient (or skip ahead 1 to 2 minutes) and your will learn about the power of games for learning.

Enjoy!